The bitcoin creator seems to take his mask off. According to two new investigations the “father” of bitcoin, known under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, can turn out to be an Australian entrepreneur. Wired Magazine and Gizmodo (AU) have published separate stories suggesting that Nakamoto’s real identity is Craig Steven Wright.
The Bitcoin Investor’s Conference in Las Vegas had hardly expected what flurry in bitcoin society it would cause. The 44-year-old Australian in a black blazer and a tieless, rumpled shirt must have been smiling inside anticipating the sensation he would make in several minutes. Until then, he was standing unnoticed and even Michele Seven, a famous bitcoin blogger, tried to find out why this man was here. Craig Steven Wright, that very mysterious man, as you may have guessed, introduced himself as a “former academic who does research that no one ever hears about.” Michele laughed asking additional questions when the striking announcement went off: “I am Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin.”
The weeks have passed by and Wired conducted its own investigation in order to find out the credibility of Wright’s words. It has managed to collect some evidence proving the identity of bitcoin’s creator:
- In August 2008 Wright posted information in his blog mentioning the intention to release a “cryptocurrency paper”. Let us remind that in November 2008 the bitcoin whitepaper was introduced on a cryptography mailing list.
- In November 2008 Wright published a post that included a request to the readers to encrypt their messages to him using a PGP public key apparently linked to Satoshi Nakamoto. His key was checked against the database of the MIT server where it was stored. It turned out that it was associated with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, an email address very similar to the email@example.com – address Nakamoto used to send the whitepaper introducing bitcoin to a cryptography mailing list.
- An archived copy of a now-deleted blog post from Wright dated January 10, 2009 reads: “The Beta of Bitcoin is live tomorrow. This is decentralized… We try until it works.” Wired calculated that the post was dated January 10, 2009, a day after Bitcoin’s official launch. But taking into consideration the jet lag with Eastern Australia, we have the fact that the post was published before the official launch.
Apart from these posts Wired cites a number of leaked emails, transcripts, and accounting forms. There’s a leaked message from Wright to his lawyer dated June 2008 in which Wright describes “a P2P distributed ledger”—an apparent reference to bitcoin’s public record of transactions known as the blockchain, long before it was publicly released.
Another leaked email from Wright to computer forensics analyst David Kleiman, his close friend, just before bitcoin’s January 2009 launch, contains information about the paper they’d been working on together.
Wright talks about taking a buyout from his job and investing in hundreds of computer processors to “get his idea going.” There’s also a PDF authored and signed by Kleiman in which he agrees to take control of a trust fund, under the code name “Tulip Trust,” containing 1.1 million bitcoins.
In the beginning of December 2015 Wired sent an encrypted email to Wright suggesting that they knew his secret and asking for a meeting. They received a wary response from the address Tessier-Ashpool@AnonymousSpeech.com, a cyberpunk reference to a rich and powerful corporate dynasty in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy. Wright had referenced the same fictional family in the bio of his private twitter profile.
The answer was: “This is a throw away account. There are ways even with Tor, but the people in Panama are extremely good and do not violate people’s desired privacy. You are digging, the question is how deep are you? The nature of the moniker is selected for a purpose. I now have resources. This makes me a we now. I am still within that early phase of learning just what my capabilities happen to be. So, even now with resources I remain vulnerable. You seem to know a few things. More than you should”.
Afterwards Wright agreed to consider the request to meet but stopped answering soon.
Let’s leave Wired’s investigation for a moment, turn to Gizmodo and know what they have managed to learn. In the beginning of November 2015, Gizmodo got several emails from someone who claimed to not only know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but also claimed to have worked for him. The message read: “I hacked Satoshi Nakamoto. These files are all from his business account. The person is Dr Craig Wright”. Indeed email contained a package of email files apparently pulled directly from an Outlook account belonging to Craig Wright.
Several of the emails and documents sent to Gizmodo reveal friendship between Wright and above-mentioned Kleiman. The documents suggest that Kleiman may have possessed a Bitcoin trust worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2011 he wrote to Wright: “Craig, I think you’re mad and this is risky. But I believe in what we are trying to do”.
Wright describes himself as “certifiably the world’s foremost IT security expert”. In a May 2013 he published a blog post titled “Morning Manifesto” with such words: “I will make a solution to problems you have not even thought of and I will do it without YOUR or any state’s permission! I will create things that make your ideas fail as I will not refuse to stop producing. I will not live off or accept welfare and I will not offer you violence. You will have to use violence against me to make me stop however. ”
Wright’s ex-wife Lynn said that her husband has been working on Bitcoin “many years ago,” but noted that he “didn’t call it Bitcoin” at first, but rather “digital money.” She was also aware of Wright’s friendship with Dave Kleiman: “I knew Dave…I knew they were friends and they talked about stuff, different things that were happening in the geek world…half the time he was taking I wouldn’t listen, hence the ex.” Nevertheless when asked point-blank if Wright was the inventor of Bitcoin, Lynn refused to make any comments.
The Guardian has reported that Wright’s house has been searched today. The Australian Federal police said in a statement that the raids were not related to the bitcoin claims. “The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.” The house was the only one on the street with a rubbish bin still outside, six days after the weekly Thursday collection, and the letterbox was full, indicating that the house may have been empty recently.
Wright once stated: “I did my best to try and hide the fact that I’ve been running bitcoin since 2009 but I think it’s getting – most – most – by the end of this half the world is going to bloody know.” He must have been tired of being silent for so long. Or just strived for sensation, who knows. We will follow the investigation and keep you updated if new evidence is discovered.