Who Created Bitcoin? The Satoshi Nakamoto Mystery Lives On

Is Satoshi Nakamoto alive? The pseudonymous developer of Bitcoin still hasn’t been identified 13 years after he rose to prominence.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Jan. 19 2022, Published 1:35 a.m. ET

Satoshi Nakamoto statue
Source: Getty Images

A statue of Satoshi Nakamoto in Graphisoft Park in Budapest, Hungary

If you’re wondering if Satoshi Nakamoto is still alive, you're presuming we even know who Satoshi Nakomoto is. As cryptocurrency buffs know, the real identity of Nakamoto, who dropped out of the spotlight in 2010 after developing Bitcoin, is still a mystery. In fact, it’s not even clear if Nakamoto is just one person. What we do know is that someone or someones using that name wrote a white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” and published it in Oct. 2008.

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That white paper described a digital currency that uses a decentralized system to record transactions on a ledger called the blockchain, as Investopedia reports. After the Bitcoin network went live a few months later, Nakamoto accrued a cache of around one million Bitcoins, which be worth around $41.6 billion at Bitcoin’s current price. As The Wall Street Journal reported in Nov. 2021, a trial in Miami, Fla., last year could have unveiled Nakamoto once and for all.

Craig Wright has claimed to be Nakamoto, but the family of his former business partner said it was a joint effort

craig wright
Source: BBC News

Australian programmer Craig Wright.

In that trial, the family of the late computer forensics expert David Kleiman, who died in 2013, sued his former business partner, Australian programmer Craig Wright, alleging that Kleiman and Wright were working together under the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym and that Kleiman’s family was entitled to one half of the Bitcoin cache.

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“We believe the evidence will show there was a partnership to create and mine over one million bitcoin,” said Vel Freedman, a lawyer for the Kleiman family, reported The Wall Street Journal. But Wright has claimed multiple times to be the one and only Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin. “We believe the court will find there’s nothing to indicate or record that they were in a partnership,” Andrés Rivero, a lawyer for Wright, said.

The trial didn’t prove—or disprove—that Wright is Nakamoto

In Dec. 2021, the jury in the Florida trial sided with Wright and didn't award half of his fortune to Kleiman’s estate. Wright was, however, ordered to pay $100 million in compensatory damages after the jury determined he had breached intellection property rights related to his and Kleiman’s joint venture, W&K Info Defense Research LLC.

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“We are immensely gratified that our client, W&K Information Defense Research LLC, has won $100,000,000 reflecting that Craig Wright wrongfully took bitcoin-related assets from W&K,” representation for the company said, reported CNBC. Nevertheless, Wright called the verdict “a remarkably good outcome” in a Twitter video, adding that he felt “completely vindicated.”

As The Verge ruled, the outcome of the trial didn’t definitively reveal Wright as Nakamoto, since Wright wasn’t ordered to fork over half a million Bitcoins. But as reporter Mitchell Clark pointed out, Wright’s damages payment might: “Coming up with $100 million is no small task, so if we see a stack of Bitcoin (in the neighborhood of 2,000 coins at today’s rates) move from the addresses widely attributed to Nakamoto, it could prove what the courts didn’t.”


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