He is willing to dig dirt to be stinking rich. After accidentally throwing away a hard drive that contained 7,500 bitcoins in 2013, British IT worker James Howells has embarked on a scavenger hunt, which if successful, would see him get $270 million richer.
The Wales-native has offered Newport city council over $70 million if they allow him to excavate the landfill site he claims could have the digital treasure.
“I offered to donate £52.5 million ($71.7 million) to the city of Newport in order to distribute to all local residents who live in Newport should I find and recover the bitcoins,” Howells told CNN.
Unfortunately for him, the city council has rejected the generous offer.
“The council has told Mr Howells on a number of occasions that excavation is not possible under our licensing permit and excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area,” a Newport City Council spokeswoman told CNN.
“The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds, without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order.”
Howells began mining bitcoin around 2009 when the crypto market was still at a nascent stage and digital currency was virtually worthless. He threw the hard drive away between June and August 2013, believing he’d already backed up the files he needed from it.
At that time bitcoin was trading around $100 mark. Today, the premier cryptocurrency is trading around $36,000.
This is not the first time Howells has tried finding the hard drive. In late 2013, following bitcoin’s surge from $150 to $1,000, Howell visited the landfill and later told BBC he thought he had “no chance” of retrieving his hard drive.
However, the Welsh now has a plan.
“The plan would be to dig a specific area of the landfill based on a grid reference system and recover the hard drive whilst adhering to all safety and environmental standards,” he told CNN.
“The drive would then be presented to data recovery specialists who can rebuild the drive from scratch with new parts and attempt to recover the tiny piece of data that I need in order to access the bitcoins.”