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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Owner Of Lost Hard Drive Containing 8,000 Bitcoin Suing City Council For Damages

From time to time, we hear about the guy, Lazlo Hanyecz, who sold 10,000 Bitcoin for 2 pizzas. We think, “that must really hurt” when thinking about today’s valuation of 10,000 BTC. The thing is, Lazlo’s Bitcoin holdings may not have not been completely exhausted at that time, which means, that though he could have been very well off today, it doesn’t mean that he’s not sitting pretty. In fact, reports say that Lazlo spent about 100K Bitcoin on pizza purchases alone throughout the summer of 2010.

Fast forward to 2023 and there is another gentleman who mined a pretty decent holding of Bitcoin and never intended on exchanging it for pizza but may be dealing with the same feelings of frustration and remorse.

According to a report from Protos, a Welsh Bitcoin investor, James Howells, accidentally threw away a hard drive holding 8,000 Bitcoin a decade ago. Howells is now threatening to sue the local council controlling the landfill where the hard drive may currently be. The lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the city as he is seeking $557 million in legal


Newport City Council (NCC) has repeatedly denied James Howells’ request to dig up the landfill and search for the hard drive containing his Bitcoin. In response, as reported by the Telegraph, Howells is preparing to sue the council and prohibit them from performing any further work on the site.

The proposed lawsuit seeks to acquire £446 million ($557 million) in damages, a value equivalent to the highest recorded price of Bitcoin. In seeking this amount, Howells's lawsuit threatens to bankrupt NCC, saying that the recently declared bankrupt Birmingham City Council would “not be the only Labour-run council to go bankrupt” this year.

“I’ve tried everything I can for 10 years, they didn’t want to play ball, so now we have to go down the legal route,” stated Howells. In an open letter sent to the council on September 4th, Howells demanded that they let him begin unearthing the landfill by September 18th. He’s also requesting a judicial review into the permissibility of the council’s stance and

decisions throughout the entire matter.

Howells, who lost the BTC in 2013 after cleaning out his old office and throwing his Bitcoin cold wallet (hard drive) into the trash, has been pursuing the landfill excavation for 10 years. The council has refused his pleas, stating that the Bitcoin “may or may not be in our landfill site.”

The 8,000 lost Bitcoin, potentially in a hard drive in the landfill, was once worth £446 million at Bitcoin’s highest price and is currently worth around £167 million ($208.8 million) at Bitcoin’s current price.

A spokesperson said, “The council has told Mr. Howells multiple times that excavation is not possible under our environmental permit, and that work of that nature would have a huge negative

environmental impact on the surrounding


“We will be offering no further comments on this issue as it takes up valuable officer time which could be spent on delivering services for the residents of Newport.”

According to Protos in 2022, Howells claimed to acquire enough funding to perform the excavation which documents from his legal team estimate would cost £11 million ($13.7 million).

He made efforts to persuade the council by committing 10% of his recovered Bitcoin to be used in turning Newport into a “crypto-mecca.”

He promised:

  • £50 to be given to every person in the city of Newport,

  • the installation of crypto-based terminals in every city shop, and

  • the creation of renewable energy infrastructure to power a “community-owned” Bitcoin mining facility which Newport could profit from.

“Do they (NCC) want to spend £10,000 an hour to stop me digging a hole? How can you explain that to the taxpayers of Newport in the current climate?” he said.

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