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Newport man searches for £4m worth of bitcoin buried treasure

A man from South Wales has been searching for a computer hard drive worth £4 million that he threw into a landfill site near his home.

James Howell, an IT professional from Newport, threw the hard drive out earlier this year, having forgotten that it had 7,500 bitcoins stored on it.

Howell acquired the bitcoins in 2009, when £1 could buy over 1,000 bitcoins. He only remembered that he had stored them on the hard drive when the virtual currency began making headlines. This week the value of a single bitcoin surpassed $1000 (£612), meaning the hard drive contained $7.5 million (£4 million).

"I'm absolutely devastated as you can imagine," Howell told the BBC. "I just wish I could go back in time and not throw that drive away".

The hard drive had been kept in his draw for three years before he finally threw it out, believing that he had taken everything off it.

"When I found out what the price was, the penny dropped and I realised the coins I have 'mined' were on the drive I had thrown away," Howell said. "There was not a lot I could do."

"When I went to the tip the manager took me up to the current landfill site and when I saw it - it's about the size of a football field - my first thought was 'no chance.'"

"The manager explained that things that were sent to landfill three or four months ago could be three to five feet deep."

Any chance of finding the buried treasure is very slim, and there is no guarantee that the contents of the hard drive could be salvaged even if it was recovered.

"The truth is I haven't got the funds or ability to make that happen at the moment without a definite pay cheque at the end of it," Howell said.