UPDATE 1/15/19 1730 UTC: This article has been modified to reflect the fact that the recent filing refers to Wright having provided a list of wallet addresses rather than the private keys that would give him access to their contents.
Craig Wright, the polarizing figure who may or may not be Satoshi Nakamoto, is today telling the court that he has received the public keys associated an $8.9 billion crypto fortune called the Tulip Trust.
Some background on what that means: Wright was a business partner to one David Kleiman, and they mined a lot of Bitcoin together back when that was an easier thing to do. The pair ended up with 1.1 million Bitcoin in their custody, and that stash is known as the “Tulip Trust” in reference to the tulip bubble that took the Netherlands by storm in the 17th century.
Kleiman passed away in 2013, and the law is clear that half of the business’ assets should go to Kleiman’s estate. But this never happened, so Kleiman’s surviving brother is suing Wright for the estate’s share.
A complicated and contentious court case
A 2015 investigation pointed to Wright and Kleiman as the possible inventors of Bitcoin, and reporters surfaced a draft of a contract that described the existence of the trust and effectively grants all of it to Wright. This moved David Kleiman’s brother Ira to launch the suit in February 2018.
It was a long and drawn out process for the legal system to identify where Wright was storing his crypto assets, and Wright was ultimately found in contempt of court last year for failing to supply a list of any BTC holdings he acquired before December 31, 2013. Wright then received a court order on January 10, 2020 calling for him to effectively open the kimono on the Tulip Trust.
He was granted until February 3, 2020 to provide the keys to the Tulip Trust on the rationale that the public keys needed to be delivered by a bonded courier sometime in January.
It appears the keys have arrived
Wright has now filed paperwork demonstrating his compliance with the court order:
Dr. Wright notifies the Court that a third party has provided the necessary information and key slice to unlock the encrypted file, and Dr. Wright has produced a list of his bitcoin holdings, as ordered by the Magistrate Judge, to plaintiffs today.
This is a big deal if it’s actually true. It could easily help Wright continue his “I’m Satoshi” schtick and win him some converts.
But if it’s less than totally true, it would only be the latest weird, reality-bending twist in Wright’s already surreal and controversial story.
In any case, that’s what Wright told courts today: he has the public keys associated with billions in crypto.
Bitcoin SV soars on the news
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision, a Wright-led fork of Bitcoin Cash that purports to more closely adhere to the anonymous Bitcoin creator’s true ideas about cryptocurrency, surged today. The currency opened the day’s trading at $193.99 and rose as high as $447.13 before settling around $388.
With the day’s gains approaching 100%, this has some calling Wright’s tactics a straight-up exit scam.