‘Soul destroying’: The Bitcoin pioneers who accidentally lost nearly $1 billion between them

From a $40m Toyota Prius to a lost hard drive with $300m of Bitcoin on it.

Published on Apr 18, 2022 at 1:01PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Apr 18, 2022 at 1:02PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain
These three lost a fortune in Bitcoin
From left - James Howells, Michael Tozoni, Laszlo Hanyecz.

These four people lost so much Bitcoin it will make your eyes water.

Be it through choice or accident, if they had held onto the crypto these early adopters would be mega-rich today.

Here are four unlucky souls who now possess plenty of hindsight.

READ MORE: Crypto billionaire sleeps on beanbag and wants to donate $20 billion

1. Bitcoin pizza guy pays 10,000 BTC ($400m)

Let’s start on a positive note because what this guy did was not a mistake, it was intentional and it had a purpose.

On May 22, 2010, a Florida resident named Laszlo Hanyecz ordered two large pizzas from Papa John’s and used 10,000 bitcoins to pay for his order.

Laszlo was an early adopter and a Bitcoin miner.

And crypto enthusiasts often thank him because they believe – and they’re right – that this transaction was pivotal in helping people understand that Bitcoin was a thing that could be used to buy real goods.

Still, at today’s rate of about $40,000 per coin, those two pizzas would be worth $400 million.

2. Is this why Elon Musk likes Bitcoin? The most expensive Tesla in the world (91.4 BTC, $3.7m)

People have been trying to buy luxury items with Bitcoin pretty much since its inception and this is just one of many examples.

And an expensive one at that.

Back in 2013, somebody purchased a Tesla Model S Performance from Lamborghini Newport Beach for 91.4 BTC, at an exchange rate of $1,126 per coin.

For the record, 91.4 BTC is worth about $3.7 million at the time of writing.

We’re sure Elon Musk was a big fan of this Bitcoin transaction

The car had been listed for $103,000 and Bitcoin’s meteoric since the sale is bad news for both the buyer, for obvious reasons, and the dealership.

Lamborghini Newport Beach never actually received the Bitcoins as they relied on a third-party service to get their payment in USD.

The showroom’s general manager Nick Jones (at the time) made the sale but the buyer was never identified.

Let’s hope they had some more BTC stashed away somewhere.

READ MORE: Check out the new Cybertruck prototype at Tesla’s

3. The guy who accidentally threw away a hard drive worth $300m (7,500 BTC)

This, along with the pizza story we mentioned earlier, is probably the most (in)famous Bitcoin ‘failure’.

However, while many view Hanyecz’s story as an attempt to accelerate Bitcoin adoption, this story only serves as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the number one rule with crypto: never lose access to your wallet.

James Howells, an IT engineer from Wales, accidentally threw away a hard drive containing 7,500 BTC back in 2013 and he’s been trying to retrieve it ever since.

Howells has been trying to get permission from Newport City Council to look through the landfill but failed, at least until now.

He called the loss “soul destroying”

The one thing we can do is learn from his mistake: if you own crypto in a hot wallet connected to the internet, never ever lose your private keys.

And if you own crypto in a cold wallet that’s not connected to the internet like a hard drive or a USB key – that’s what happened to Howells – never ever lose the physical support in which you’ve stored your crypto.

4. The most expensive Toyota Prius in history (1,000 BTC – $40m)

We’ve heard of customers buying Teslas, Ferraris and Lambos with BTC, but we can be fairly certain that no one regrets using BTC to buy a car more than Michael Tozoni.

That’s because in 2013, Tozoni purchased a pre-owned Toyota Prius for 1,000 BTC.

Yes, 1,000 with three zeros.

Full disclosure: Tozoni is a Bitcoin expert who’s been working in the crypto space for a long time so he probably still owns some Bitcoin.

But whichever way you cut it, that’s a 40-million-dollar Prius.


And a disclaimer to end on a bit more of a happy note.

While they may have lost out on millions of Bitcoin, we have no idea if they are holding on to wallets of other crypto.

Chances are they might have more Bitcoin funds we don’t know about.

We sure hope so.

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