Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s enigmatic creator

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ON PAPER—or at least on the blockchain—Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the richest people on the planet. Bitcoin is a semi-anonymous currency and Mr Nakamoto is a pseudonymous person, so it is hard to be sure; but he is generally reckoned to own around 1.1m bitcoin, or around 5% of the total number that will ever exist. When bitcoin hit its peak of over $19,000, that made him worth around $20bn.

But Mr Nakamoto, though actively involved with his brainchild in its early history, has been silent since 2011. An army of amateur detectives has been trying to work out who he really is, but there is frustratingly little to go on. While developing bitcoin he claimed to be male, in his late 30s and living in Japan, but even that information is suspect. There are indications that he may have lived in an American time zone, but his English occasionally contains British idioms. Some of his goldbug-like comments about central banks that “debase the currency” and the evils of fractional-reserve banking led early cyber-libertarian bitcoin enthusiasts to claim him as one of their own. One thing is certain: he values his privacy. To register Bitcoin.org he used Tor, an online track-covering tool used by black-marketeers, journalists and political dissidents.