Parallel Gizmodo and Wired investigations into the identity of mysterious Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, published yesterday, pointed to Australian academic and serial entrepreneur Craig Wright as potentially involved with the invention of the cryptocurrency.
While the evidence does not conclusively pinpoint Wright or his business associate Dave Kleiman as the creator(s) of Bitcoin, it does suggest strong ties between the two men and the cryptocurrency.
Australian police have since raided Wright’s apartment, but said their search was unrelated to recent reports of his connection to Bitcoin.
Plenty of questions remain about the apparently hacked documents and Wright and Kleiman’s relationship to Bitcoin. Here’s what we know so far that links them to Bitcoin’s creation:
- In emails and documents sent to Gizmodo by an apparent hacker, Wright repeatedly claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Wright’s ex-wife told Gizmodo that she recalled Wright working on Bitcoin “many, many years ago.” She noted that he originally called it “digital money”.
- These hacked emails show Wright using the email address [email protected] to email to his colleagues in January 2014. This is the same email address used by Satoshi Nakamoto in the early days of Bitcoin development.
- The hacked documents show Wright attempting to contact an Australian senator to ask about Bitcoin regulation from the same Satoshi email address.
- The hacked documents include a transcript of Wright discussing Bitcoin with the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The transcript shows Wright saying he had been “running bitcoin since 2009”.
- From the same trove of documents, emails apparently sent from Wright to his friend Dave Kleiman show Wright asking Kleiman to edit a paper on Bitcoin, months before the famous Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin whitepaper came out in November 2008.
- In a now-deleted August 2008 post from Wright’s blog, Wired reports that Wright referenced plans to publish a “cryptocurrency paper” as well as “triple entry accounting”, which is the name of a paper by cryptographer Ian Grigg that teases out ideas similar to Bitcoin.
- In a November 2008 blog post accessed by Wired, Wright tells people to contact him with a PGP key associated with [email protected]
- Wired also pulled up an archived copy of a blog post from Wright dated 10 January 2009. “The Beta of Bitcoin is live tomorrow. This is decentralized… We try until it works,” it reads. As Wired points out, in the Wright’s Australian timezone, this post would have gone up on January 9, 2009, prior to Bitcoin’s launch in EST. Wired notes that the post appears to have been edited between October 2013 and June 2014.
- Wright appears to have replaced the text of that original post with the following message: “Bitcoin — AKA bloody nosey you be…It does always surprise me how at times the best place to hide [is] right in the open.” It was deleted sometime after October 2015.
- In another email, Wright complains to Kleiman: “I cannot do the Satoshi bit anymore. They no longer listen. I am better as a myth.”
- When asked about the contents of the emails obtained by Gizmodo, Wright asked Gizmodo “where did you get that?” and confirmed that recipients copied on of one of the emails were his attorney, accountant, and coworker.
- Wired found a liquidation report for one of the companies Wright founded, Hotwire. The report is available on the website of corporate advisory firm McGrathNicol, and it shows that Wright used $US23 million ($23 million) in Bitcoin to back Hotwire.
- Gizmodo’s tipster provided an unfinished legal draft that shows Kleiman and Wright forming a Seychelles-based Bitcoin trust with 1,100,111 bitcoin. (The oft-estimated number of bitcoin Satoshi has stashed: 1 million.)
- This legal draft lists five PGP keys for managing the trust. Looking for those keys in a public database pulls up one for Wright, on for Kleiman, and two for Satoshi Nakamoto.
- The draft also shows Kleiman agreeing that he will not divulge “the origins of the [email protected] account.” This is the email account Satoshi Nakamoto used to publish his Bitcoin paper.
- After Kleiman died in 2013, his business partners received a document with an Australian return address informing them that Kleiman was no longer legally affiliated with a company called W&K Info Defence Research. After his death, “Coin-Exch,” one of Wright’s businesses, was listed as an “authorised person” after the company was reinstated as an LLC. From the hacked documents, in the minutes from a meeting between the Australian Tax Organisation and Wright’s attorney, Wright’s accountant states that Kleiman and Wright founded the company, and that it was a Bitcoin-mining operation.
- Kleiman’s business partners received emails from Wright after Kleiman’s death explaining that the pair had mined a number of bitcoins “too large to email.” Wright asked the men to check the security of Kleiman’s electronics.
- One of Kleiman’s business partners, Patrick Paige, told Gizmodo that Wright had admitted at first that Kleiman invented Bitcoin, and then clarified that a group of people had invented it, Kleiman among them.
- When Paige emailed Wright in November 2015 to ask if he was planning to release any information about the role he and Kleiman played in inventing Bitcoin, Wright emailed back: “Not yet. We are in the process of finalising some of the research. I was hoping we could be at the point of release before the reporters started sniffing around.” In another email, he added: “When it all comes out, there is no way Dave is left out.”
- Ira Kleiman, Dave’s brother, told Gizmodo that Wright had contacted him after Dave’s death, telling him that he and Dave had been involved in inventing Bitcoin.