A trial is underway in Florida: the family of a deceased man is suing his former business partner for control of their partner’s assets.
The assets in question are a cache of approximately one million bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $64 billion today, belonging to bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, who goes by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. One of the most enduring mysteries in the financial world is who Satoshi Nakamoto is. Is the name referring to a specific person? Or perhaps several? And why hasn’t he, she, or they touched a single penny of that fortune?
The answers to these questions are at the heart of both the Florida dispute and the cryptocurrency itself. Bitcoin has grown into a trillion-dollar market, attracting tens of millions of investors. It has posed a challenge to governments attempting to regulate it and has received support from some. Some see the technology behind it as a way to rewire the global financial system. However, it is unknown who created it and why. And that’s before we get to who owns one of the world’s most enormous private fortunes.
That is what a Florida jury will attempt to do. Mr. Wright has claimed since 2016 that he invented bitcoin, a claim that the majority of the bitcoin community has dismissed. Mr. Kleiman’s family claims that the two collaborated on and mined bitcoin together, entitling Mr. Kleiman’s family to 500,000 bitcoins.
Only one piece of evidence could definitively prove Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity to bitcoiners: the private key to the account where Nakamoto stored the one million bitcoins. Anyone claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto could demonstrate their possession of them by removing even a fraction of a coin from it.
One of bitcoin’s mysteries is the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Someone with that name sent a nine-page paper to a group of cryptographers outlining an “electronic cash” system that allowed people to exchange value without using a bank or other third party.
Two strings of numbers control how the digital currency moved for each of the more than 650 million bitcoin transactions, which are all publicly visible on a ledger called the “blockchain.” These strings of numbers are a public key and a private key. Anyone can send bitcoin to the public key, also known as the destination address, analogous to a bank account. Only the person in charge of the budget will access the private key and own the bitcoin.
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