Nakamoto’s net worth is estimated to be up to $73 billion, with crypto holdings in the region of 750,000 to 1.1 million BTC. This ranks them above Walmart heirs Jim and Rob Walton, as well as Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim.
The price of bitcoin hit a new all-time high earlier this month above $68,000 following an increase of more than 300 per cent over the last year. One prominent prediction model has forecast it could rise above $100,000 before the end of the year, which would see Nakamoto ascend to the top 10 of the world’s wealthiest, with a net worth on a par with investor Warren Buffett.
Nakamoto described their vision for a peer-to-peer digital currency in a white paper in 2008, before launching bitcoin a few months later in January 2009. After collaborating with other developers on the project for nearly two years, Nakamoto withdrew and has not been active online for over a decade.
Several bitcoin wallets that are believed to belong to Nakamoto also remain untouched, with their contents rising in value by more than 10 million per cent since they were last used.
The mystery surrounding Nakamoto’s true identity remains unresolved, though circumstantial evidence points to several potential candidates.
Early crypto pioneer Hal Finney was the first person to ever receive bitcoin through an online transaction and numerous attempts were made to link his online activity to Nakamoto’s. He denied being the cryptocurrency’s creator and refused to speculate on who it might be until his death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in August 2014.
A high-profile Newsweek cover story in March 2014 claimed to have “unmasked” the inventor of bitcoin, claiming that Japanese-American computer scientist Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was behind it. The article was widely debunked following its publication.
That same year, a book by financial author Dominic Frisby singled out Nick Szabo as bitcoin’s creator, pointing to his writing style and the fact he designed a pre-curser to bitcoin’s electronic cash system. Mr Szabo denied the claims, tweeting: “Not Satoshi, but thank you.”
In 2015, Australian programmer Craig Wright claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto but was broadly greeted with scepticism from senior figures within the crypto industry. A few days after proclaiming himself the inventor of bitcoin, Mr Wright retracted his claim and posted an apology to his website.
“I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me,” he wrote. “But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.”
Mr Wright has since been sued by the estate of deceased David Keiman, whose family claim worked with Mr Wright and jointly used the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to publish bitcoin’s white paper.