Mark Michaels, a South African engineer, would have had around $940,000 in BTC if he hadn’t deleted his private key and password.
A South African resident revealed that he mined 20 BTC when he was younger, making him nearly a millionaire. Unfortunately for him, he misplaced his Bitcoin wallet’s key and password.
BTC Password – Just as Important as BTC
As a child, Mark Michaels, a 24-year-old electronic engineer from Pretoria, South Africa, was fascinated by cryptocurrencies. He began mining Bitcoin more than ten years ago, when he was in seventh grade, after researching the Internet.
Michaels stated, “I believe I used the original Bitcoin wallet software, which required a wallet key and password to access.”
The engineer mined 20 BTC while working nonstop for a few weeks. At the time, the primary cryptocurrency’s dollar value was barely $0.0008. Apart from the fact that its price was insignificant, there were no crypto platforms where he could sell the assets for money:
“Eventually, I became bored with it because you couldn’t do much else on your PC while it was busy, and the Bitcoin you mined was practically worthless.”
Despite the fact that he was still young and the coins were nearly worthless, he carelessly saved his Bitcoin wallet key and password in a text document on his computer desktop. Michaels accidentally deleted the files while cleaning up his device at one point.
However, when the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed to $1,000 a few years later, the South African made his first serious attempt to reclaim the lost virtual assets:
“I recall gathering all of the hard drives, memory sticks, CDs, and DVDs in the house and going through each one carefully. It took about a week to complete this task. I also tried running data recovery software on my primary hard drive, but it was ineffective. That drive had already been formatted and reused several times by that point.”
Based on current prices, Michaels’ Bitcoin holding is worth approximately $940,000. Nonetheless, he said he had made peace with losing access to his assets, comparing his situation to predicting the winning numbers of a Lotto ticket and then declining to purchase it.
The Man Who Was Denied Access to 7,002 BTC
The case of Mark Michaels is not an isolated one. According to Chainalysis, approximately 20% of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin has been lost or is in stranded wallets. This only emphasizes the significance of storing the private key.
While the South African engineer is unable to manage his 20 bitcoins, Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, is unable to recall his password and thus loses access to 7,002 bitcoins. By doing the math, he would have had around $328 million.
In 2011, Thomas created an educational video titled “What Is Bitcoin?” for another cryptocurrency enthusiast, who paid him 7,002 BTC for his services. The German, however, paid little attention because the virtual asset was nearly worthless at the time, and he misplaced the digital keys to the wallet.
He completely changed his mind when the value of BTC skyrocketed in the following years, and he made several attempts to access the funds. His wallet allows users ten guesses at the password. Thomas has used eight of his most common assumptions so far, but without success:
“I’d just lie in bed and think about it.” Then I’d go to the computer with a new strategy that didn’t work, and I’d be desperate.