Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator Satoshi Nakamoto was the first person to mine the cryptocurrency, at a time when each mined block generated a 50 BTC reward.
Unlike today’s bitcoin miners, satoshi did not split these rewards with potentially thousands of other mining pool users, and instead benefited from the entire reward himself. at that time bitcoin had practically zero value; today, the price of bitcoin is at the mid-end of the five-figure dollar range.
Reading: How much bitcoin does satoshi have
It is believed that between January and July 2009, Satoshi mined more than 1 million BTC in total, probably making him the most prolific miner in Bitcoin history. Recent research has suggested that satoshi could have mined even more bitcoins, but was deliberately held back, limiting its hash rate to give other miners a fair shot at blocks.
the patoshi pattern
Although it is not 100% certain exactly how many bitcoin satoshi he mined himself, the efforts of leading security and cryptocurrency researcher sergio demian lerner may have generated the best estimate yet.
In his report, titled “The Well Deserved Fortune of Bitcoin Creator, Visionary, and Genius Satoshi Nakamoto,” Lerner analyzed blocks mined between January 1, 2009 and January 25, 2010 (blocks 1 to 36288 ) in an attempt to identify which were extracted by the same entity. In doing so, Lerner found that a single entity using a single mining rig mined thousands of blocks between this time and amassed around 1 million BTC in block rewards while he was doing it.
lerner coined the term “patoshi pattern” to describe the pattern of blocks that appear to have been mined by this single entity. since the pattern starts with the genesis block, it is assumed that patoshi may be satoshi nakamoto himself.
lerner further expanded this investigation in april 2019, when he published the follow-up article: “the return of the deniers and the revenge of patoshi”. Here, the author discovers that Patoshi mined approximately 22,000 blocks single-handedly, earning a total of 1.1 million BTC in block rewards. To put this in perspective, the block reward has been halved three times since then, and bitcoin miners now earn just 6.25 btc for each block mined.
at bitcoin’s current value, that would put satoshi nakamoto’s fortune at over $10 billion, which would almost certainly make satoshi the richest bitcoin owner in terms of pure btc holdings.
the intact hoard of satoshi bitcoins
Recent speculation that satoshi may have moved 50 btc from a 2009 era block was recently debunked when it was discovered that these bitcoins are not covered by the patoshi pattern. instead, those bitcoins appear to have been moved by another early adopter, who has linked with dozens of other blocks mined during the period that satoshi was active.
Despite holding over $10 billion worth of bitcoin, there is no hard evidence that satoshi moved any of it, showing impressive restraint and genuine beneficence. Of course, that assumes that satoshi still has access to the private keys that these funds contain.
So far, numerous people have publicly claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, including Craig Wright, Jörg Molt, Bilal Khalid, and Debo Guidos. others have been selected as possible candidates by a variety of researchers. but to date, no one has been able to definitively prove that they have the private keys to any of the addresses believed to be owned by satoshi, the most convincing evidence that would prove they are satoshi nakamoto.
In any case, it is likely that satoshi will be unable or unwilling to spend his bitcoin, perhaps due to the risk that doing so could lead to his eventual identification. if satoshi’s identity were ever to be revealed publicly, it would likely have dramatic repercussions for bitcoin.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for republication in January 2020.