This engineer lost €500m in a landfill but he still hopes to find it again

This engineer lost €500m in a landfill but he still hopes to find it again
This engineer lost €500m in a landfill but he still hopes to find it again

The fortune of James Howells, a young British man, is locked in… a hard drive lying somewhere among the garbage of a recycling center in Newport, Wales.

Estimated at nearly 500 million euros at current prices, this sum rests in the form of 8,000 bitcoins which are stored on this lost external hard drive. Frustrated and angry, Howells is determined to recover this treasure lost in 2013. Faced with the refusal of the city of Newport to give him access to the landfill, he takes it to court.

8,000 bitcoins up for grabs

It all started when the engineer accidentally lost his hard drive containing 8,000 bitcoins – inadvertently thrown by his then-girlfriend into a trash bag. In 2013, this loss did not seem catastrophic because the price hovered around $300.

However, with the cryptocurrency soaring in recent years to exceed $70,000, the value of this hard drive has grown spectacularly. At the current price, these crypto-asset holdings would represent no less than 500 million dollars. James Howells is biting his fingers.

Evolution of the Bitcoin price © Coinmarketcap

Despite his desperate efforts to recover his hard drive, James Howells faces a wall of intransigence from the local authorities: the municipality of Newport refuses to give him access to the landfill. A spokesperson explained that excavating the site would be costly and risk having a negative environmental impact. James Howells, for his part, sees this as a blatant injustice.

A case that ends in court

To try to recover his hard drive, James Howells promised substantial rewards to the city but the city has not (yet) been convinced. He has also developed bold plans to carry out searches using cutting-edge technologies and limit damage as much as possible – such as robot dogs or AI.

Determined not to let his fortune slip away, he has now filed a lawsuit against the city of Newport. His stubborn quest to find his bitcoins is a real soap opera that all the media around the world have picked up. It remains to be seen whether this modern treasure hunt will one day succeed and whether James Howells will finally be able to access his loot… To be continued.

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