A surreal story has been playing out in the last 24 hours or so, ever since Newsweek promised the biggest story of the crypto-year. The unmasking of Satoshi Nakamoto. And the Real Satoshi may have just come out of the woodwork to respond.
50 minutes ago, this post appeared on the P2P Foundation forum, the same place Nakamoto unleashed his White Paper on Bitcoin in 2009:
Most likely a joke on the part of the administrators of the forum. But what prompted the post? A series of events that have reached high farce.
In the Newsweek story, Journalist Leah McGrath claimed that Satoshi Nakamoto was… Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese-American living a humble life in suburban Las Angeles. In a feature that bordered on harassment of the man – he called the police to support him as he spoke to McGrath – photos of a nondescript, aging man and his modest house belied the myth. Newsweek decided to post pictures of a man and his easily-identifiable house, along with an estimate of his net worth, for the world to see. His fortune – the so-called “genesis block” of the first Bitcoins mined and still untouched – by this time would be worth over $400 million.
‘Tacitly acknowledging his role in the Bitcoin project, he looks down, staring at the pavement and categorically refuses to answer questions.’ wrote McGrath.
‘I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,’ Nakamoto allegedly told the reporter. ‘It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.’ As there was no context to the sole quote of the man, it is hard to say whether he was talking about Bitcoin.
With no more words coming from Nakamoto himself, the rest of the story focussed on a two-month investigation and conversations with family and friends. Nakamoto, they said, had worked on classified projects for the government. And he liked model trains. Flimsy though the evidence was, the story set off a media frenzy, with newspapers around the world picking up the story. Soon reporters and journalists were camped outside the house, jostling for position and taking pictures through the screen door.
In a bizarre and somewhat surreal scene, Nakamoto emerged from his house, looking for a lift for sushi. ‘No, no questions right now. I want a free lunch. I’m not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute. I want free lunch first. I’m going to go with this guy,’ he said, indicating a reporter from Associated Press. Ignoring Nakamoto’s own Corolla, the two took off in the journalist’s car, with all the less-favoured following in a slow-speed chase, which was duly photographed and tweeted as it happened.
Investigative journalists used the lunch break to track down early online musings of the man enjoying his sushi. Andy Greenberg of Forbes turned up this piece of writing. Not so similar to the White Paper.
At the lunch, the sickly man emphatically denied having any involvement in Bitcoin. He said English was not his first language and that the reporter had misunderstood him.
Tweeter @CryptoCobain, suggested setting up a Bitcoin Lunch Fund so that Not-Satoshi can have free sushi for a year. The fund might also help pay the harassed man’s medical bills.
The Newsweek story came hot on the heels of a brilliantly-researched and thoroughly more convincing story in the UK’s The Sunday Times, “Desperately Seeking Satoshi” by Andrew Smith. Unfortunately you’ll need a subscription or a friend who’s willing to scan the hard copy to you to read it.