It's only taken four years but early Bitcoin investors who put their money in Mt. Gox may at last be about to get some of their coins back. The Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange, which at one time handled 70 percent of all Bitcoin transactions, declared bankruptcy in 2014 after revealing that hackers had made off with 850,000 bitcoins. That stolen loot was worth about $500 million then. It would be worth about $5 billion now. A Tokyo district court has approved the start of civil rehabilitation proceedings.
Mt. Gox was the biggest Bitcoin loss and affected the most people but as cryptocurrencies have fallen, plenty of other people have lost eye-watering amounts. Here are some of the biggest crypto losses.
Chris Larsen Loses $44 billion
One way to make a lot of money with cryptocurrency is to create a coin that lots of other people trade. Chris Larsen is a co-founder of Ripple, a coin created to better manage bank transactions. At one point, the coin was trading at $3.65 which meant that Larsen entered 2018 worth just shy of $60 billion.
And one way to lose a lot of money is to be so closely associated with a cryptocurrency that when it falls, selling would only push it down further. Ripple is now worth just 45 cents and is continuing to drift down. With nearly $16 billion worth of Ripple still in his possession, Larsen is a long way from poor. But he might now spend his weekends thinking about all the small countries he could have bought with the $44 billion he lost in the last six months.
The Winklevoss Twins Lose $1.6 billion
You might have thought that after their involvement in the creation of Facebook, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss would have taken their court winnings, bought a small island in the Caribbean and settled down to a life of sun and surf. Instead, they moved into the more stormy waters of Bitcoin investment.
The pair are believed to have bought 120,000 bitcoins, or 1 percent of all the coins in circulation. That was in 2012, when Bitcoin cost just $10 each. At Bitcoin's peak, their holdings were worth $2.34 billion. They're now worth just $720 million, a loss of $1.62 billion. Having put in $1.2 million for that result, it's unlikely that they'll be crying too hard over their lost fortune.
IT Worker Dumps $146 Million
The Winklevoss might be able to soak the loss of the odd billion bucks here and there but British IT worker James Howells probably needed the money a little more. Like the Winklevoss twins, he moved into cryptocurrency early, mining 7,500 bitcoins between 2009 and 2013. He sold the laptop he used to mine the coins, but kept the hard drive just in case those keys ever turned out to be useful. During a clearout later that year, he accidentally tossed out the drive which ended up buried in a landfill in Wales.
At Bitcoin's peak, the coins on that hard drive would have been worth more than $146 million. The municipality, which adds 50,000 tons to the site every year, has refused Howells permission to try to dig out the drive, citing environmental risks. Somewhere in a dump in the UK is a giant pot of digital money.
Journalist Loses His Life Savings
One of the more cautionary tales of Bitcoin losses comes from Australian journalist Derek Rose. In 2017, Rose cashed in his $70,000 retirement account and poured it all into cryptocurrencies. At first, things went great. Cryptocurrencies were racing upwards and Rose borrowed money to enhance his investments. He was paying $1,000 a day in interest but he was making half a million dollars a day in profit. At one point, his holdings had reached $7 million. When a friend suggested he cash in, he replied that he wanted to own a sports team and a yacht. He continued using leverage... and quickly lost everything.
It's one thing to lose money you've won, but to lose money you can't afford to lose is a lesson for everyone.