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Lost Bitcoin: Man Sues to Dig Up $16 Million in BTC

Last Updated March 26, 2024 11:07 AM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated March 26, 2024 11:07 AM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • Howells initiated legal proceedings for permission to search a landfill for a hard drive containing 7,500 Bitcoins.
  • For a decade, Howells has faced rejection regarding access to the landfill, citing environmental concerns.
  • Howells thinks the worth of the lost hard drive could be over a billion dollars.

A British computer specialist, who accidentally lost a hard drive with 7,500 Bitcoin on it, has launched a legal bid  to persuade a local authority to let him excavate the landfill believed to house the misplaced computer.

With the crypto expected to keep rising, James Howells said he wanted the chance to recover the lost coins.

Initiating Legal Action for Landfill Search to Recover $500M

Howells former partner mistakenly threw away a hard drive containing 7,500 Bitcoin (BTC). Now, he has begun legal proceedings  to force Newport City Council to let him excavate a tip where, he believes, the lost cryptocurrency is buried.

A group of hedge fund investors  is reportedly backing Howells’ potentially costly legal battle. They will, as a result, receive a share of the recovered BTC if Howells is successful in his quest.

Besides funding the lawsuit, the investors have also put together a team of search experts and data recovery specialists.

Threatening Bankrupting Council

For the past decade, Howells has been in a dispute with the Welsh local authority, seeking permission to access land to retrieve the drive. However, the authorities have consistently denied his requests.

His legal representatives issued an ultimatum  last year, insisting the council let Howells start operations on the site by September 18.

The cryptocurrency investor is gearing up for a legal showdown to stop the council proceeding with other projects on the land. He is also claiming damages of $557 million, which represents the highest valuation yet of the lost Bitcoin.

Furthermore, he is pursuing a judicial review of the council’s decision to deny him entry to the landfill.


Howells added : “After trying everything possible for 10 years without their cooperation, the only option left is the legal path.”

He expressed frustration  over the council’s refusal to seriously consider the recovery of the buried assets. He added it was “irrational” to not even discuss the matter, regardless of whether buried treasure is Bitcoin, gold, or diamonds.

Howells Believes Value Could Skyrocket

At the current market prices  the 7,500 BTC stored on the hard drive are worth over $525 million. However, Howells, in an interview with the Daily Mail, said he thought the value of these Bitcoins will eventually surpass a billion dollars. His main goal, he emphasized, is simply to have the chance to retrieve the lost coins.

Howells stated :

โ€œSome experts believe that by the end of the year the price will rise to $25,000[0] per coin. That would make my hard drive worth ยฃ1.5 billion. The council may be happy to leave that in a landfill but Iโ€™m not. They want me to go away and forget about it but how could anyone? Why should I back down? All I want is a chance to get my property back.โ€

Newport Council previously rejected a request  to conduct an excavation, pointing to potential adverse environmental consequences. The council has chosen not to provide additional comments on the matter.

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