Dr. Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor, has been ordered to surrender half of his cryptocurrency assets.
The ruling, which came from a Florida judge earlier this week would be run-of-the-mill. That is, if we weren’t talking about billions of dollars and the potential unmasking of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto is the name attached to the Bitcoin whitepaper that launched the cryptocurrency in 2009. However, the name is a pseudonym and the real creator’s true identity has remained a mystery.
Naturally, people have been out to solve that mystery but have encountered nothing but dead ends. Some people claim to be him, others claim to know him. In 2015, WIRED magazine proposed to have found him.
Who Is Craig Wright?
Dr. Wright, according to WIRED, had been potentially outed by a dark web hunt. The search revealed deleted emails and blog posts attributed to Wright referencing elements of Bitcoin before it launched.
The following year, the Australian publicly claimed to be Nakamoto to major news publications and magazines. He still identifies himself as Nakamoto on his personal blog. That is, despite the fact that the evidence that he provided to the BBC and others was later found to be fraudulent.
That brings us to this week. The order to hand over his crypto wasn’t part of a crypto case, but rather an estate case. The ruling, reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, says that AU$5.9b belongs to the estate of Wright’s late partner.
Wright could still argue the case in court and potentially avoid handing over the crypto. However, this might play into his hands. His representative said that if he hands over the coins it might help prove that he is the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Why the Case Is Significant
For the cryptocurrency community, this could play out in a number of ways.
Many might be intrigued to know who the real Satoshi Nakamoto is. However, some Bitcoin zealots are not likely to accept anyone as the real creator.
What’s more intriguing is what might happen to crypto markets if that many coins were returned into circulation. If Wright has access to them – which he claims he doesn’t – they’re just sitting somewhere. “Sitting somewhere,” is what they’ll be doing if he’s not the real Nakamoto and can’t access the coins. That is to say, he claims to both be Nakamoto and to not have access to the coins. Some say those things don’t go together.
Supposing he does hand over the coins, everything falls into the hands of his late partner’s estate. The estate could HODL the coins and everything would continue on. However, if they cash in their chips, it could flood the market and drop the value. At least, temporarily.
This is definitely a story to follow. It could play out in a number of ways and what happens next could change Bitcoin forever.
Jon Jaehnig is an American freelance writer specializing in Technology and Health. Jon has degrees in Scientific and Technical Communication and Journalism from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife and cat. For more from Jon, you can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.