An interesting post cropped up on the Bitcoin subreddit recently. User r_y_r_y asked how people know Satoshi Nakamoto’s account contains 1 million Bitcoin. Gregory Maxwell, Bitcoin core developer responds.
The user states that they’re running bitcoin.rpc in Python, and while reading Coinbase’s messages in Bitcoin’s blocks, began questioning how people would be able to verify that there is a private key associated with 1 million BTC.
tl;dr: There’s no reason to think Satoshi has a significant number of coins; Vorick’s argument is invalid.
— Peter Todd (@peterktodd) March 13, 2019
Gregory Maxwell, going by the username nullc, explains that they don’t. “The 1e6 bitcoin number is a pure bullshit claim that comes from assuming that essentiall all unspent coins mined during the first year are owned by Satoshi– something we know to be false (at the moment there are 1097602.49 BTC that were mined during the first year which have not been spent).” Maxwell adds that this story is fueled by a “conartist claiming to be Satoshi and claiming to have a million Bitcoins.”
He adds that, in reality, no one knows how much Bitcoin Satoshi has. Since Bitcoin was public before block 1, Maxwell says that it’s possible he only ever mined a few blocks and has since sold or lost most of it. On the other hand, it’s also possible that he mined a lot of Bitcoin (not a million), but that he still has a bunch.
Maxwell adds that there is an argument that some early Bitcoin miner holds one or two hundred thousand Bitcoin “based on a pattern of the nonces values in early blocks,” but no one is sure who that is.
In response to a later comment, Maxwell concludes by saying “I think that that story is just that, a story.”
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