Former Ripple CTO may have lost much more than $220M in Bitcoin

David Schwartz, current chief technical officer at Ripple, is responding to reports his predecessor had lost access to hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoin. 

In a Quora post on Thursday, Schwartz said recent reports about former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas forgetting the password to an encrypted hard drive containing thousands of Bitcoin (BTC) were true, but added Thomas had also lost access to hundreds of coins when the crypto asset was young.

The Ripple CTO said his predecessor used to test the development of a Javascript library for Bitcoin by using real coins when the price was well under a dollar.

“He would create unspent outputs with ‘1.0’ Bitcoin because that was the fastest and easiest number to type,” said Schwartz. “He likely created hundreds of such accounts, none of which he retained the keys for because they were just for quick experiments. Each of those accounts is worth $38,000 or so today.”

Even just one hundred of these accounts at 100 BTC would mean the coins within are worth more than $3 million. The price of Bitcoin has fluctuated between $30,000 and $40,000 since reaching an all-time of more than $42,000 on Jan. 8.

Last week, a New York Times profile on Thomas said that the German-born programmer has used eight out of ten attempts to guess the password to access an encrypted hard drive containing 7,002 BTC. He has only two guesses left on the IronKey hard drive before the data — and funds — are seemingly lost.

Schwartz confirmed the story on Quora, saying Thomas had put aside the coins, which were part of a payment for creating a video. However, he questioned the $200+ million figure cited by major news outlets:

“I believe today [Thomas’ Bitcoin is] worth about $114 million. I’m not sure where the $240 million number is coming from — maybe I’m remembering wrong.”

There are many similar stories of long lost Bitcoin from early in the coin’s development. Last week, Cointelegraph reported that a student had found private keys to access more than $4 million worth of Bitcoin at his grandfather’s house over the holidays.

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