The Face Behind Bitcoin: He Said, She Said

By Chris A. Batiste-Boykin

On March 6, 2014, Newsweek published an article by reporter Leah McGrath Goodman in which Goodman claimed to have identified the creator of Bitcoin as Mr. Dorian Nakamoto. The article reads almost like a Tom Clancy novel and suggests that the creator of the volatile, digital currency left clear and obvious hints as to his identity, despite an overwhelming public awareness that he intended to remain anonymous.

Mr. Nakamoto vehemently denies being Bitcoin’s creator and has lawyered up to defend his position. Mr. Nakamoto claims he didn’t even know that Bitcoin existed until February 2014 and that Newsweek’s accusation is costing him opportunities for gainful employment and adversely affecting the health and well-being of his family.

Curiously enough, Newsweek’s article includes quotes from Mr. Nakamoto’s family members—his former spouses, two of his children, and his brother—in which they consider whether Mr. Nakamoto could be Bitcoin’s creator. Family members hint that Mr. Nakamoto may be a bit paranoid, describing him as a fickle man with weird hobbies. They discuss his distrust of government and speculate about his possible motivation in creating Bitcoin as a reaction to a devastating home foreclosure that occurred after he fell behind on his mortgage and failed to pay taxes. Understandably, it’s possible that the foreclosure could have motivated Mr. Nakamoto to create a currency that does not rely on a central bank (or government backing) for financial transactions.

Bitcoin has infamously endured tidal wave momentum with the rise and fall of its value. From late 2013 to today, Bitcoin has been valued anywhere from $1,200 per coin to as little as $130, leaving investors curious as to whether the digital currency will ever become stable enough to be a viable central bank-free currency. Naturally, onlookers are skeptical. However, despite a vulnerability to theft, fraud and scandal, former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke has stated that virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise.”

Given that the creator of Bitcoin owns an estimated $400 million in Bitcoin, which remains untouched, it is tempting to wonder why anyone would exchange $400 million for anonymity—or better yet unconditionally deny being the creator of Bitcoin? Bitcoin’s chief scientist, Gavin Andersen, who worked with the anonymous creator known only as Satoshi in 2008, says the answer is easy: the creator does not want to participate in the Bitcoin madness. Mr. Andersen has stated, “if you were to come out as the leader of Bitcoin, now you would have to make appearances and presentations and comments to the press and that didn’t really fit with Satoshi’s personality.”

Leah McGrath Goodman stands by her article—claiming Mr. Dorian S. Nakamoto is Satoshi Nakamoto, the named author of Bitcoin’s nine-page proposal entitled, Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System, which surfaced in 2008. She has gathered some interesting facts to prove her hypothesis, seemingly picking up the trail of breadcrumbs that leads straight to Mr. Nakamoto’s front door. Yet, in light of the possibility of a $400 million dollar fortune, Mr. Nakamoto exclaims, “you’ve got the wrong guy!”