Satoshi Nakamoto is the original hodler, having left the bulk of his coins unmoved since day one. The theoretical wealth of bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator is a hot topic, and one that the mainstream media are especially fond of pondering. In recent weeks, bitcoin’s record highs have propelled Satoshi into the billionaire league, making him one of the world’s 50 richest people. There’s another reason why Satoshi’s digital wealth is growing however: people keep sending him bitcoin.
The World’s Most Reclusive Billionaire
The number of bitcoins owned by Satoshi Nakamoto is widely regarded as being 1,148,800, based on a detailed analysis that was published in 2013. Evidence shows that the bulk of the first 36,000 blocks was mined by one computer, which can only have been Satoshi. At the time, the reward per block was 50 BTC and of the 1,814,400 awarded, 63% was never spent, leaving Satoshi with a fortune of over 1.1 million BTC.
Today, that would mean Satoshi Nakamoto is worth around $16.8 billion. Add in another $3.4 billion in bitcoin cash, $370 million in bitcoin gold, ignore every fork after that and you wind up with total assets of $20.5 billion. This is all hypothetical of course, since most people believe that Satoshi’s coins will never move for various reasons. Nevertheless, on paper at least, Satoshi Nakamoto’s unclaimed billions place him 37th in the world’s rich list, above Microsoft founder Paul Allen and just $5 billion behind George Soros.
The only Satoshi to officially make Forbes’ billionaires list, incidentally, is cosmetics titan Satoshi Suzuki. With a fortune of ‘just’ $1.3 billion however, he ranks a distant 1,567th. If or when bitcoin hits $60,000, Satoshi will become the world’s richest man, overtaking Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have $75.6 and $86 billion respectively.
Satoshis for Satoshi
If Satoshi Nakamoto is one guy, and is still alive, it’s safe to assume he has no desire to touch his cryptocurrency stash. Based on what little is known of bitcoin’s creator, it’s hard to imagine him developing a sudden urge for the high life. Whatever Satoshi’s aspirations, becoming a billionaire playboy is not one. Given that Satoshi Nakamoto owns more bitcoin than anyone else in the world, the last thing he needs is more bitcoin. But that’s exactly what’s been happening, every week, for the past eight years. Not only has the value of Satoshi’s holdings been increasing, but so has their number.
1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa is the address associated with the genesis block. It was here that the first 50 bitcoins ever issued were sent on 3rd January 2009. The transaction is marked as “No Inputs (Newly Generated Coins)”. The 50 BTC this address contains, like that in most of the addresses attributed to Satoshi, have never been moved. As a consequence, one would expect its balance today to read 50 BTC. In actual fact, bitcoin’s genesis address currently contains more than 66.7 BTC, sent over the course of 1,140 transactions.
Keep the Tip
From bitcoin’s earliest days, right up until this week, a steady stream of bitcoin has been winding its way to the blockchain’s original wallet. Most of the transactions are tiny, though there are a few larger ones in there. In June 2012, for example, the Mt Gox wallet – which is currently empty, but previously received a total of 5.7 million bitcoin – sent 1.23 BTC to the genesis address. To date, bitcoin’s maiden address has received 16.7 BTC in tips, worth around a quarter of a million dollars.
Other addresses associated with Satoshi have also benefited from anonymous donations, though it is bitcoin’s earliest and most famous address that has attracted the most transactions. Ironically, the 50 coins that were awarded after the genesis block was mined are unspendable. Due to the way bitcoin’s maiden block has been coded, block 0, as it is known, was not added to the blockchain. It is not known whether Satoshi did this deliberately or not. Every time someone sends bitcoin to Satoshi, they’re effectively consigning those coins to spend eternity as an unspent transaction in the genesis address.
One final intriguing fact about the genesis block is that it took six days to mine. As speculated in an old Bitcointalk forum thread, this may have been yet another deliberate trick on the part of Satoshi, to mimic the biblical account of creation. As we read in Genesis 2:2, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested.”
Sending bitcoins to an unspendable address might seem nonsensical, and yet each of these donors would beg to differ. It’s not the value of each transaction that counts – it’s the gesture. In the absence of a Twitter account to @ or a real world address to mail, sending bitcoin to the genesis address is people’s way of saying thank you. Thank you, Satoshi, for making all this possible.