James Howells, a UK-based IT worker, has offered the Newport city council $72 million in exchange for permission to dig up a hard drive he discarded back in 2013, which has 7,500 BTC stored in it.
According to The Telegraph, Howells accidentally threw away the hard drive while cleaning his house back then. His Bitcoin fortune was earned by mining with a CPU when it was still relatively easy to mine the flagship cryptocurrency.
When his fortune started being worth millions, he tried to recover the hard drive but the Newport city council has continuously rejected his requests. According to Newport daily tabloid the South Wales Argus, he has now made an offer to the city worth 25% of the funds as a COVID-19 relief donation.
At current prices, the BTC held on the hard drive is worth nearly $300 million. The IT worker reportedly said he just needs access to the landfill records to know where to search, and that the search team would create an air-tight seal to prevent the release of poisonous gases.
Commenting on the possibility of finding the funds, Howells said there is “no guarantee” that the hard drive still works because of the environment it’s in, but added:
The outside case might be rusted. But the inside disk, where the data is stored, there should be a good chance that it still works. I believe there still will be a chance. But the longer this drags on though, it’s less likely to be a possibility.
Officials have, however, countered there are environmental risks associated with the excavation, and that if the hard drive isn’t found they would have to cover the bill themselves. Howells has, however, said he is prepared to commit funds to an escrow account to cover the excavation costs.