Like gold bullion that drowned in the sea, Bitcoin wallets too can disappear into the depths of the digital sea. Of the 21 million total Bitcoins, nearly 18 million have already been mined. However, not all of them are accessible, and according to certain estimations, several million are already lost forever.
Interestingly, there have been incidents when lost Bitcoin has been found by its owner. Ron Gross recently described such a case. Gross is a well-known figure from the Bitcoin community who was also the founder of Mastercoin, one of the first Altcoins.
“In those days of 2012, the discussions around Bitcoin were not as widespread as they are today and were mainly conducted on the BitcoinTalk forums. At one point someone just offered a Bitcoin grant to be paid for someone who would implement a project to improve the currency’s scalability, ” Gross told CryptoPotato.
Gross liked the idea and quickly opened a wallet for Bitcoin donations for implementing a project with the promising name of Blockchain Pruning.
These were the early days of Bitcoin, before the Electrum wallet and any hardware wallets, so Gross had opened the Bitcoin wallet through the infamous Blockchain.info. The donations accumulated amounted to a total of 5.725 Bitcoin, whose current value is approximately $50,000.
Back in 2012, the price of Bitcoin was much lower than its current value, and since the project did not come to fruition, the coins were just forgotten in the wallet over the years.
Who wants a $ 50,000 donation?
However, the taxation of crypto has awoken the wallet from its long sleep. The need to report crypto transactions forced Ron to dig deep into his crypto history in an attempt to trace his full activity, and after seven years, he discovered this lost donation wallet.
The wallets on Blockchain.info are associated under the Hybrid wallets category, where access to the wallet is made via the web. The private keys are encrypted and stored on a central server, and access to the wallet is only made possible via a password. Although Gross knew the password, he could not access the wallet due to changes made over the years, and only after contacting Blockchain.info’s customer service, did he successfully retrieve access to the funds.
Since that time, Gross has been wondering what to do with the funds he raised. “Since it has been a long time, I will wait for the relevant people to respond, and if there is no substantial interest in the next two weeks, the funds will be donated to a relevant project in the field of improving the performance of Bitcoin,” stated Gross.
Study: About 20% of Bitcoin is lost
Unlike Gross’ case, not all lost wallets are destined to be found. A recent study found out that the total number of lost Bitcoins range from 2.78 to 3.79 million, which is roughly 15-20% of the total Bitcoin in circulation. Among the lost coins are Satoshi Nakamoto’s wallets, which contain around one million Bitcoins, according to various estimations.
In conclusion, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that is controlled by the holder of the wallet’s private keys, and as such, it requires a high level of responsibility. James Wallace was miserable to lose the private keys to his wallets containing around 7,500 Bitcoins, which is approximately 60 million dollars as of writing this post.