How many BTC are lost forever?2 min read
The history of Bitcoin (BTC) begins with coins that should have been stuck on the blockchain for a long time. Because the Genesis block, which saw the light of day in the digital world in January 2009, contained 50 BTC that were not to be moved again until 2022.
But Bitcoin should also be lost. A few years later, Mt.Gox, the world’s first Bitcoin exchange, was to experience a crypto meltdown. 850,000 Bitcoin were lost in a suspected hacker attack. Massively alienated investors were left behind. Whether the coins will ever find their way back to their owners is questionable.
But in addition to these hacker attacks, it happens again and again that investors lose their private keys, misplace them or simply do not write them down. James Howells also made it to notoriety for throwing away a hard drive during a 2013 cleanup. The content: 8,000 BTC.
And apparently he wasn’t alone. Because according to data from Chainalysis, we will count around 1.46 million BTC in 2023, which will most likely be lost forever in the vastness of the blockchain. The analysts speak of “zombie coins” here.
Where did all the BTC go?
All of these coins are not actually lost. They’re just stuck on the blockchain. And probably forever. Unless someone accidentally finds their private keys again, or if a future super AI manages to guess the private security key using a brute force attack, things will look bleak.
This short excursion into the land of lost coins shows once again: Not Your Keys, not your Coins. Whether an exchange is hacked or you lose your keys in some other way, the same principle always applies. In the Bitcoin network, everyone is responsible for the security of their own assets.
And in order to keep this security at the highest possible level, it is advisable to keep your private keys on a cold wallet. These are USB-like devices that usually have multi-level security procedures. There the coins are protected from attacks of any kind.