How Much Bitcoin Does Satoshi Have?

Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin who ushered a new era for finance and money as we know them, has been a target of curiosity for many years, as a result of the astonishing success of cryptocurrencies. As with any mystery, discussions about their identity and Bitcoin holdings have been common on crypto forums.

However, despite the numerous theories, it’s still unclear if it’s only one person or a group of people behind this pseudonym, given the lack of evidence we have. All we know is that someone who calls themselves Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2008 and jump-started the development of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Since Nakamoto is the original creator of Bitcoin and knows how the system works front-to-back, it’s inevitable to wonder about the number of bitcoins they hold. So, in this article, we’ll talk more about the possible identity of the mysterious Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto and their Bitcoin wealth. Let’s get started!

The True Identity Behind Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto published Bitcoin’s whitepaper through cryptography mailing lists in late 2008 and consequently mined the first Bitcoin block, also known as the Genesis Block, in January 2009. Following that year, Satoshi was actively following and participating in discussions on the cryptocurrency’s current and future development on Bitcoin forums.

Hand holding big fingerprint on paper with busy streets on background

However, Satoshi’s involvement with Bitcoin came to an end in 2010. Their last correspondence was an email to a cryptographer, Mike Hearn, stating that they had “moved on to other things” as the future of Bitcoin was “in good hands”. 

Since cryptocurrencies have been a hot topic for almost a decade now, it’s impossible to keep the rumours about Satoshi’s identity from spreading. Since the invention of digital currencies, there have been theories about a number of cryptographers and academics being the founders of Bitcoin. Even though none of the speculations was confirmed, they might give us an idea of who could be behind the pseudonym.

Over the years, many people have claimed that they’re Satoshi Nakamoto or were presumed to be due to their involvement with Bitcoin. However, the real Nakamoto still remains a mystery, so the search continues. Below, we’ll go over the most notable personalities that were “suspected” to be the Bitcoin creator. 

Craig Wright

In 2016, Australian entrepreneur and academic Craig Wright claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin in a blog post he posted on his old website, with a couple of his friends from the cryptography developers community backing him up. 

But Wright’s claims drew suspicion from the cryptocurrency community as he refused to comment on the investigations run by Wired and Gizmodo magazines. Strangely, around the same time, the Australian police got behind him with a search warrant issued by the tax office. This was unrelated to Bitcoin but was enough to make things more complicated. 

Things got even more entangled when the family of a deceased man by the name of David Kleiman sued Craig Wright for using Kleiman’s intellectual property. They claimed that Kleiman was involved in the creation of the digital currency (as his business partner) and that because of this, they were entitled to half of the wealth Satoshi had generated through the Bitcoin blockchain. The alleged wealth was over $64 billion, but Wright’s involvement with the creation of Bitcoin has never been proven. 

When his claims drove a sudden influx of scrutiny, Wright posted an apology after deleting the post in which he claimed to be Satoshi in the first place. However, his apology post was not a clear cut explanation of what was really going on, as he still rejected publishing the proof of access to the earliest keys.

In December 2021, the Miami jury rejected the civil claim against Wright, even though Wright still claims to be the man behind the coin.

Hal Finney

Hal Finney, who died in 2014, was one of the pillars of the cypherpunk movement that laid the ground for the eventual invention of Bitcoin. A cypherpunk is said to be an individual advocating for the widespread use of cryptographic tools and technology to enhance privacy in daily life. The movement advocated empowering individuals through improving cryptographic technologies. They created a mailing list that could function as a forum through which they were sharing open-source codes and carrying conversations ranging from philosophy, politics, mathematics, and cryptography.

Anonymous man wearing black hoodie on black background

Hal Finney was a very active member of the cryptography community even before Bitcoin was launched and was the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi themselves, whoever they may be.

It is very hard to dismiss Hal Finney’s contributions to cryptography and the invention of cryptocurrency. However, he denied the accusations of being the man behind the million-dollar idea.

Dorian Nakamoto

If you do a google search on Satoshi Nakamoto, you will see pictures of a middle-aged Japanese man. This person is Dorian Nakamoto, an engineer and an academic from California. He was clueless about Bitcoin when Leah McGrath, a writer from Newsweek, wrote an article on the creation of Bitcoin titled “The Face Behind Bitcoin”, in which she claimed that he was the real Satoshi Nakamoto. 

Nakomoto denied this and claimed he had nothing to do with it. But the magazine published a photograph of Nakomoto and his home, which drew a lot of unwanted attention to him and his family. The Bitcoin community was very disappointed that his privacy had been violated, so they raised more than 100 BTC for Dorian Nakamoto through an online campaign in an effort to apologise for the violation of his privacy. Furthermore, a subsequent investigation ruled Dorian Nakamoto out of the picture despite the article.

And as a funny coincidence, what caused further drama for Dorian Nakamoto is the fact that Hal Finney lived just a few blocks from him. Their neighborhood, some zealous Satoshi hunters have surmised, could have been the inspiration for the pseudonym Nakamoto invented by Finney.

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo is a computer engineer and an academic. Like Hal Finney, Nick Szabo was also an early cypherpunk who contributed immensely to the community. He is considered to be a pioneer in the field of smart contracts with his work. He is the founder of the early digital currency attempt called “Bitgold”, which was a decentralised payment system developed 6 years before Bitcoin.

Group of people in community leaning against wall using mobile phones

Dominic Frisby, author of “Bitcoin: The Future of Money?” makes a case in his book that Szabo is, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto, based on comparative research between Szabo’s and Nakamoto’s handwriting, as well as Szabo’s employment in the company DigiCash, which was an early attempt to bring cryptography into digital transactions.

On top of Frisby’s allegations, Elon Musk has contributed to the topic by saying he believes Szabo looks like he is responsible for the ideas behind Bitcoin. However, Satoshi already included Szabo in the references of the whitepaper of Bitcoin, thanking him for his contribution to the field. Therefore, Musk’s allegations are not enough to conclude that Szabo is, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto.

Satoshi’s Bitcoin Wealth

Because Satoshi was the one to lay their hands on Bitcoin before anyone else, it’s not surprising to hear that they mined lots of Bitcoin back in the day. Unlike today’s miners, Satoshi didn’t have to split the block prizes with others in mining pools. They didn’t even have to compete with other miners. At the time, Bitcoin’s price was practically zero, but today, Satoshi’s hard work makes him a billionaire.

It is estimated that Satoshi is holding more than 1 million BTC, which is around 40 billion US dollars today. And that makes them the most prolific miner in the history of Bitcoin and easily one of the richest persons in the world, with just a 100 billion dollars less than Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. But 1 million BTC is not an extreme number considering the lack of competition in the industry during the early days and the much higher block prizes that decline as we move towards the end of the maximum minable Bitcoin limit. But can we even estimate Satoshi’s Bitcoin holdings?

The Patoshi Pattern

It is impossible to know the exact number of Bitcoin Satoshi mined themselves, but thanks to the efforts of Sergio Demian, who is one of the prominent online security and cryptocurrency researchers, we have a model to estimate the amount of Bitcoin Satoshi is holding. 

Man's silhouette with bitcoin floating on top on gray background

Lerner describes the Patoshi Pattern in his paper: “The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Creator, Visionary and Genius”. He examines the blocks mined in the year 2009, starting from the Genesis Block, from block #1 to block #36288. 

In his article, Lerner points out that a single entity mined most of the blocks in 2009, which is not a surprise since cryptocurrencies weren’t such a hot topic back then. Lerner’s examination revealed that there were thousands of blocks mined by the same entity between these blocks and the total amount of BTC hit up to 1 million.

Over the years, some Bitcoin from some of the very early Bitcoin wallet addresses has been transacted. This led to some people speculating that the Patoshi Pattern really points towards blocks mined by Satoshi. However, in his follow-up paper “The Return of the Deniers and the Revenge of Patoshi”, Lerner explains that these transactions are very likely to be from other wallets and that Satoshi’s Bitcoin stash is still unmoved.

Satoshi’s Dormant Bitcoin Wallets

On May 21, 2020, a Twitter account called “whale_alert”, dedicated to monitoring several blockchains and reporting big transactions, posted an alerting tweet spotting an unusual transaction from one of the very early Bitcoin wallets. According to the tweet, 40 BTC were moved out of a wallet that has been dormant since 2009. 

As you might imagine, it didn’t take long before the cryptocurrency community got excited about the news. Although the indicators on the Bitcoin blockchain suggested that this transaction probably belonged to someone other than Satoshi, investors seemed to be panicking because if Satoshi starts moving their immense Bitcoin holdings, it could have unprecedented effects on both Bitcoin and altcoin markets. 

Man in suit holding bitcoin with green upward arrows

Moreover, in December 2011, another dormant wallet from the early days of Bitcoin got activated. This wallet contained 500 BTC and was last used in 2010. The value it’s holding has risen from around $8 thousand to $23 million, thanks to the soaring price of Bitcoin.  

There are hundreds of other Bitcoin wallets dating back to the beginning of Bitcoin’s invention. The most valuable one holds around 80 thousand BTC, which is worth around $3.5 billion today. 

A Few Words Before You Go…

So far, numerous people have publicly claimed to be Satoshi or accused of being them. But to date, no one has proven that they hold the private keys to any of the addresses that contain the Bitcoin mined during the earliest days of the digital currency.

Regardless of Nakamoto’s identity, it looks like they are either unwilling to spend their BTC so as not to disturb the market or are simply incapable of doing so, as they would have to reveal their identity as well. If the face behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto were to be publicly revealed, it would have serious repercussions for Bitcoin and all of the altcoin ecosystems.