How The Guy Who Lost The Password To $220 Million Bitcoin Fortune Overcame A ‘Decade Of Regret’ To Find Peace

iStockphoto / Composite

In July of 2018, I left my polarized Ray Bans at Spumoni Gardens pizza joint in Brooklyn and a part of me still hates myself for it, among other mindless mistakes I’ve made in my pathetic excuse for a life.

Now, when I wallow in the depths of self-hatred, I will remind myself that Stefan Thomas exists.

Stefan, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, lost the password to a thumb drive called IronKey that contains keys to 7,002 bitcoin worth $220 million.

The German-born programmer living in San Francisco has used 8 of the 10 password attempts allowed by the thumb drive, and has come up empty-handed every time: “I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Thomas told the New York Times. “Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

[Related: A Man Who Threw Away $275 Million In Bitcoin Is Offering To Give Away $70 Million If He Can Find The Hard Drive In A Landfill]

Now, as the last grains of potential riches slip through his helpless fingers, Thomas claims his desperation has morphed into serenity.

In an interview with KGO-TV, he said that the mere thought of losing that much money had previously made him “sort of question your own self-worth.” He has since “made peace” with the fact 7,002 bitcoin at $40,000 apiece will likely be forever locked behind a series of keystrokes.

“It was actually a really big milestone in my life where, like, I sort of realized how I was going to define my self-worth going forward,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be about how much money I have in my bank account.”

Thomas somehow managed to say this without breaking down in tears.

Thank you for the input, Roxane. Would you also like to kick him in the nuts with a steel-toed boot?


Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.