“What is tragic about anxious people is that they always have reason to be,” wrote Henry de Montherlant. One evening, ten years ago, the British James Howell went to bed with a tight stomach. Something was wrong. He thought of that black trash bag placed in his driveway; a few hours earlier, he had thrown a used hard drive in there. Did I throw away the correct disc? the 28-year-old computer scientist asked himself as he turned in bed. Or the one, identical in every way, containing the sole access to its cryptocurrency accounts? Promising to check first thing the next day, James Howell, finally at peace, fell asleep. When he got up, he noticed that his partner had taken the trash when leaving. Kind service at the origin of a standoff that has lasted for ten years.

On this day ten years ago, James Howell lost his only access to what became a fortune. In the last month alone, the value of his 8,000 misplaced crypto coins has increased by almost 40%. They are now worth more than £450 million. They could be worth more in the months to come, experts speak of 1.5 billion. His hard drive, the good one, the one that his partner threw away to “do him a favor” but without his “permission”, he told Dailymail, is in the public dump in his town of Newport (Wales). ) for over ten years. And for ten years, James Howell has been begging the city council to let him search the landfill. He wants to find what he compares to “a ball” that he would have thrown “over a barrier” and that people have refused to give back to him since the first day.

On several occasions, and from the outset, the municipal council in fact responded that there was no question of authorizing excavations because work of this nature would have “a huge negative environmental impact on the surrounding area”. In his fierce fight, the computer scientist is surrounded by an armada of lawyers financed by hedge funds who will be paid in bitcoins if they are ultimately recovered. “Why should I give up? he asks. All I want is a chance to get my property back.” Next stop: the British High Court.