Bitcoin Origins: Dead Men Don’t Lose Private Keys
The judge presiding over the Kleiman vs. Wright trial ruled that 50% of all Bitcoin-related intellectual property created by Craig Wright prior to 2013 must be handed over to the estate of the deceased Dave Kleiman.
Depending on how much you buy into the Craig Wright carnival show, that could turn out to be half of Satoshi Nakamoto’s legacy… or absolutely nothing whatsoever. The sole source of the claim that Wright and Kleiman mined 1 million BTC together is none other than Craig Wright himself.
The Many Contradictions of Craig Wright
As suggested in a post-trial breakdown by WizSec Bitcoin Research, Wright’s braggart claims about holding 1 million BTC were accepted by Judge Rheinart, and now work in Kleiman’s favor:
“The judge takes CSW’s bitcoin ownership claims at face value; those lies now only work to Wright’s detriment, and the judge seems content to let Wright lie in the bed he made for himself.”
The counsel for the plaintiff listed the many contradictions of Craig Wright regarding Dave Kleiman’s involvement with the alleged blind trust where his Bitcoin is secretly held. At various points in the trial, Wright or his defense have uttered the following contradictory statements on the subject:
- Dave has no rights to the trust, no ownership of the trust, no knowledge of the setup of the trust.
- Dave was asked simply to hold a part of some documents and keys that were split using Shamir’s Secret Sharing scheme so that he did not even know what he was actually holding.
- Neither Wright nor anyone else ever put Bitcoin into the trust, and that it never held or came to hold Bitcoin private keys.
Whose Bitcoin Is it Anyway?
From a bystander’s viewpoint, it appears that the blind trust story was a way for Wright to explain why he couldn’t access the 1 million BTC he claimed to have owned. Roping in his deceased friend Dave Kleiman seemed a useful way to hide the tracks of his deception.
After all, dead men tell no tales, right?
But their families do. And when the Kleiman estate appeared to lay claim to half of the mythical Bitcoin fortune, that’s where Wright’s troubles began. Now he finds himself indebted to the tune of around $5 billion – and that doesn’t include all the coins from Bitcoin hard forks over the years, which are considered relevant related assets.
Such poetic justice was not lost on either Judge Bloom or Judge Rheinart, both of whom used literary references to color their impressions of the proceedings. Both seem relevant now.
Judge Bloom quoted Sir Walter Scott, writing:
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
Judge Rheinart referenced 17th-century English playwright John Dryden when he annotated his ruling with the following:
“Apparently, dead men tell no tales, but they (perhaps) send bonded couriers…I completely reject Dr. Wright’s testimony about the alleged Tulip Trust, the alleged encrypted file, and his alleged inability to identify his bitcoin holdings.”
If a courier shows up in 2020 carrying a dead man’s key, then the American judicial system will have been proved wrong. Until then, Craig Wright has a bill to pay.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.