Man Accidentally Throws Away Hard Drive With Bitcoin Worth $280 Million

James Howells says that he had 7,500 bitcoins which, at today's prices, would be worth more than $280 million

Man Accidentally Throws Away Hard Drive With Bitcoin Worth $280 Million

A British man accidentally threw away a hard drive with bitcoin worth $280 million on it.

A British man who threw away a hard drive with bitcoin worth 230 million pounds in it is once again trying to convince local authorities to let him search for the device in a landfill site. James Howells, a 35-year-old IT engineer from Newport, Wales, began mining the cryptocurrency in 2009, according to Metro News. He was cleaning his office in 2013 when he accidentally threw away the hard drive with bitcoin that is now worth a small fortune.

The price of bitcoin has soared in recent years, though it was practically worthless when Mr Howells began mining it . According to news agency AFP, the virtual currency barrelled to new highs to rise more than 400 percent over the past year, before sliding some 20 percent and then settling around $36,000.

Mr Howells says that he had 7,500 bitcoins which, at today's prices, would be worth more than $280 million. He claims he had two identical hard drives and mistakenly threw away the one which has the cryptographic "private key" he needs to access his bitcoin, reports CNBC.

He is confident that he can recover the bitcoin even after all these years - but so far the Newport City Council has refused to let him search the landfill site he believes contains his hard drive.

"There is a good chance the platter inside the drive is still intact," Mr Howells told CNBC. "Data recovery experts could then rebuild the drive or read the data directly from the platter."

The 35-year-old has even offered to donate 25% of the bitcoins - worth around $70.8 million - to the city, but so far to no avail.

The Newport City Council has rejected repeated requests from Mr Howells to let him look through the garbage dump which could contain the hard drive he threw out eight years ago. 

"The council has told Mr Howells on a number of occasions that excavation is not possible under our licencing permit and excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area," a council spokesperson said.

"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."

Mr Howells is still making a last-ditch effort to convince the council. He says he has found a hedge fund willing to fund the excavation so the council would not have to pay for it. 

"I'd like the opportunity to sit down with the decision makers and present to them an action plan for what we want to do. I hope we can get that," he says.

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