Genesis block cryptocurrency bitcoin celebrated its 13th birthday. On January 3, 2009, the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto launched the main Bitcoin network and mined the first block, for which he received a reward of 50 BTC, but since then the identity of this person (or even group of people) has not been revealed. He has been called the businessman Ilon Musk, an American programmer, a scientist, and even a drug lord.
It is believed that the “father” of the first cryptocurrency owns at least 1.1 million bitcoins – 5.8% of mined bitcoins. According to cryptocurrency exchange rates, as of Jan. 4, that’s more than $51.2 billion.
However, contrary to this, the identity of the person (or even a group of people) who hid under the pseudonym of Nakamoto for 13 years remained undisclosed.
Businessman Craig Wright
According to the best-known version, the creator of the technology that turned the world upside down is 51-year-old Brisbane, Australia native Craig Wright. On May 2, 2016, through the publications BBC, The Economist and GQ (the publication was later deleted), the scientist-programmer and businessman proclaimed himself Satoshi Nakamoto.
On the same day, he published “Nakamoto’s cryptographic signature” on his website. Many cryptanalysts and cybersecurity experts concluded that Wright only reused Nakamoto’s bitcoin transaction signature from seven years ago (at the time).
Against this backdrop, the cryptocurrency community is not inclined to consider Craig Wright the true Nakamoto. However, the family of his deceased friend and business partner David Kleiman claims that their relative did help the Australian create bitcoin.
Because of this, they demanded that Wright pay half of Satoshi Nakamoto’s entire “inheritance” – that is, over $25.6 billion. However, the U.S. court denied their claim, ordering Wright to pay only $100 million.
Billionaire Elon Musk
All of the other Satoshi Nakamoto’s have denied any involvement in the cryptocurrency. One of them is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the richest man on the planet Ilon Musk.
In November 2017, former SpaceX intern Sahil Gupta named Musk as the likely creator of bitcoin in his personal blog. He cited three arguments in favor of his version:
- Musk is familiar with the C++ programming language in which the mining program was written;
- The billionaire’s ambitious plans;
- Despite his interest in global issues, he seemed to avoid the bitcoin topic at the time.
Musk himself soon disproved this theory. But in late 2021 Gupta brought it up again – he claimed to have received indirect confirmation from then-business sector representative Sam Teller. But Musk denied the words of his former subordinate a second time, too.
Drug lord Paul Le Roux
According to one theory, Satoshi Nakamoto could also be the South African programmer Paul Le Roux. He is perhaps the most odious personality on the list of cryptocurrency “fathers.”
The 50-year-old Le Roux is the founder of an international drug cartel. At the height of the “opioid crisis” that raged in the U.S. in the 90s, he earned $300 million by selling painkillers on the Darknet, and with this money he founded an underground business.
In 2012, the man was detained while trying to import drugs into the U.S., and in 2016, he confessed to killing seven members of his cartel. Le Roux was eventually sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2019, a reduced sentence for acting as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Evidence of his involvement in bitcoin came to light in 2018 during Wright’s trial with Dave Klayman’s brother, Ida. Attorneys for the Australian asked that some of his answers be withheld, but they left a footnote to Le Roux’s Wikipedia page.
This was enough to give rise to the theory that Le Roux allegedly created bitcoin to launder money. Proponents of this view believe that Wright knew or even collaborated with Paul Le Roux, and after his detention simply appropriated all of his cryptocurrency. Two other facts support this theory:
- Le Roux has extensive knowledge of cryptography;
- like Musk, he is well versed in the C++ language.
Gavin Andresen, founder of Bitcoin Foundation
In April 2011, Nakamoto notified the Bitcoin community that he was leaving the project and American programmer Gavin Andresen, who had been working with him since 2010, took over the reins. Proponents of another conspiracy theory claim that by doing so, the software developer gave control to himself by “killing” the fake identity.
In 2012, Andresen founded the Bitcoin Foundation, which aimed to develop the first cryptocurrency. In 2014, he fully focused on the project, but left it in February 2016. Since then, Andresen has not participated in the life of the bitcoin community.
He considers Craig Wright to be the creator of bitcoin. The programmer officially announced it at a conference in 2016.
Cryptoscientist Willy Lehdonvirta
An employee of Oxford University, Willy Lehdonvirta, was one of the first to be called a real Nakamoto. The editorial board of The New Yorker put forward a version of this back in 2011.
The Finnish sociologist and former game developer was pointed out by Michael Cleare, a cryptographer at Trinity College Dublin. He himself had previously been called a possible Nakamoto, but he said Lehdonvirta was more suited for the role.
“I wish I could say I was Satoshi because bitcoin is a very smart technology. But that’s not me,” Lehdonvirta debunked the rumors.
Bitcoin has been one of the professor’s research interests, but he himself admits to being against the anonymous currency. Meanwhile, paper money, he said, is only needed by criminals.
The founder of cryptography Nick Szabo
Also a scientist and one of the founders of cryptography Nick Szabo was “nominated” for the status of the “father” of the first cryptocurrency. This version is also inclined to Elon Musk.
It was Szabo in 1998 who developed the algorithm of “digital gold” (Bit Gold) – the first decentralized digital currency. But his idea never came to fruition.
In 2008, Szabo expressed his desire to make Bit Gold a reality in his blog. As you know, that was the year that the Bitcoin.org white paper, a nine-page roadmap for the first cryptocurrency, was published on October 31.
Against this backdrop, scholars at Aston University examined Sabo’s academic writings for style and subject matter in 2014. Comparing them to Nakamoto’s writing, the researchers came to a startling conclusion: no other author was better suited to the role of Nakamoto.
Like almost everyone else mentioned, Nick Szabo gave up the glory of being a bitcoin creator. “Thank you, but I am not Satoshi,” he replied to one supporter of this version in 2014.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto
In 2014, Newsweek suggested that Satoshi Nakamoto was not an alias at all. At the time, journalist Lee McGrath Goodman claimed to have found the real Nakamoto in California.
According to Goodman, Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, then a 64-year-old engineer of Japanese descent from Temple City, personally confirmed it to her upon meeting him. The man soon called it a lie.
Confirming a number of facts from his biography in the article, he categorically denied his involvement in the creation of Bitcoin. On his website, he called himself and his family, also quoted by Goodman, “victims of a reckless news organization.”
Nakamoto of California accused the author of the publication of misrepresenting his words. Against this background, he organized a fund-raiser to file a libel suit against the editorial board.