In 2013, when bitcoin was still possible mine at home, the editors of WIRED magazine got a small, sleek miner, manufactured by the now defunct company Butterfly Labs. The journalists included “asik” in the office in San Francisco and left it to do its job. A small fortune in bitcoins soon 13 was produced — now they cost about $100,000, but lost forever. Now the authors have shared this heartbreaking story.
Stefan Antonovich, software engineer WIRED, set up and ran the miner. Robert McMillan, a former senior journalist of WIRED (he now works at the Wall Street Journal), wrote about it at the time:
When we got the miner Butterfly, we are faced with the ethical question: what to do with the income from the device, a review of which we write and which essentially prints money?
Staff had to decide what to do with bitcoins. Michael calore, editor, WIRED with working in 2006, says they’ve been discussing this issue. Some staff believed that bitcoins need to sacrifice or postpone for charity in the future. Others said that they need forever to get rid of. However, all agreed that the money should not be in the wording, because that can affect the way the magazine writes about cryptocurrencies.
In the end it was decided that the secret key that unlocks a bitcoin wallet and allows use of funds must be destroyed. Michael kalor says:
We talked about how to donate to the development of journalism or to defer as scholarships. But then I decided that if ever get any benefit, we would discriminate against bitcoin. So we just destroyed the key, knowing that these bitcoins may well find a six – or seven-digit value.
Then Macmillan published a post about what a piece of paper with the key was torn apart. No additional copies of the private key does not exist, at least according to participants in the events. In any case, if someone moves the coins, the transaction will become publicly available. Look at the lost bitcoins WIRED, you can at this address.
It would be theoretically possible to restore a bitcoin wallet on your hard drive where it was saved, but Antonovich says ran it through a digital shredder a few years ago. In addition, even if the purse would be able to recover, it is encrypted. Hacking by brute force will take unimaginable amount of time. According to Antonovich, there are three times more possible combinations than atoms in the observable universe:
At first I wanted to say that we like threw the car key into the Atlantic ocean, but now I think that the metaphor of “somewhere between us and alpha Centauri” better reflects the situation.
It seems that journalists do WIRED permanently lost your bitcoin, and they’re not alone. According to analysts of the company Chainalysis, which studies the activity at different cryptocurrency markets, from 2.78 to 3.79 million, or from 17 to 23% of all bitcoins can be considered lost. These figures include wallets, presumably owned by Satoshi Nakamoto, which since 2011 haven’t touched my bitcoin (at the address left more than a million).
According to Michael Granger, CEO and co-founder Chainalysis, the percentage of lost coins will eventually be reduced, because they saw the value of bitcoin, even with its volatile exchange rate. He also said that, if Satoshi ever came back, its activities will not have a significant impact on the market, because it is unlikely to be able to spend large amounts of bitcoins.