Man Accidentally Pitches $7.5M Hard Drive

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's a lousy way to spend a weekend: searching through the garbage dump for a hard drive containing roughly $7.5 million in bitcoins. That's the lot of poor James Howells, a Newport, England, man who accidentally threw the hard drive away.

Howells purchased about 7,500 bitcoins back in 2009, when the Internet currency was still in its infancy. Now, each bitcoin is worth an astronomical $1,000 USD, meaning Howells' bitcoin collection is worth about $7.5 million.

"Totally Forgot About Bitcoins," Man Says

Problem is, Howells -- who works in information technology (IT) -- purchased the bitcoins using an old computer. Eventually he dismantled the system and set the hard drive aside.

"I stored a couple of parts away like the hard drive, and the rest of the bits and pieces which were still working I sold for spares," Howells told the BBC.

"I kept the hard drive in a drawer in my office for three years without a second thought -- totally forgot about bitcoins all together." (Source:

Howells says he was "distracted by family life" and a move to a new house.

Eventually Howells did a little spring cleaning and ditched the old computer equipment -- including that very valuable hard drive. Not until recently did he realize just how valuable bitcoins had become.

"I had been hearing a few stories of a chap from Norway who had bought a number of coins for a very low price and had sold them for a high price and that's when I got back into checking the price and seeing what I'd done," Howells said.

"When I found out what the price was, the penny dropped and I realised the coins ... were on the drive I had thrown away. There was not a lot I could do." (Source:

Dump Diving a Hopeless Endeavor

In desperation Howells went to the local landfill. He soon realized that the task ahead of him was gargantuan. While he was able to narrow the location of his hard drive to one section of the dump, it's still the size of a football field.

Worse still, the landfill manager says the device could be buried under 3-4 feet of refuse. Howells hasn't completely ruled out making a try at finding the hard drive, but he's hardly hopeful.

After the landfill manager noted that most searches involve 15 to 20 people and a team of dogs, Howells said "truth is I haven't got the funds or ability to make that happen at the moment without a definite pay cheque at the end of it." (Source:

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