Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin traders,
practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared to lose his
anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a story that said he
lived in Temple City, California, just east of Los Angeles.
Newsweek included a photograph and a described a short interview, in
which Nakamoto said he was no longer associated with Bitcoin and
that it had been turned over to other people. The magazine concluded
that the man was the same Nakamoto who founded Bitcoin.
Dozens of reporters, including a sprinkling of Japanese media,
encircled and camped outside the man's two-story house on Thursday
morning, accosting the mailman and repeatedly ringing the doorbell,
to no avail. Police cruisers drove by several times but did not
Several times, someone pulled back the drapes on an upstairs window.
In the afternoon, the silver-haired, bespectacled Nakamoto stepped
outside, dressed in gray sport coat and green striped shirt, with a
pen tucked in his shirt pocket. He was mobbed by reporters and told
them he was looking for someone who understood Japanese to buy him a
Newsweek estimates his wealth at $400 million.
"I'm not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute, I want my free lunch
first. I'm going with this guy," Nakamoto said, pointing at a
reporter from AP.
"I'm not in Bitcoin, I don't know anything about it," the man said
again while walking down the street with several cameras at his
He and the AP reporter made their way to a nearby sushi restaurant
with media in tow, before leaving and heading downtown. Los Angeles
Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno followed the pair and described the
chase in a running stream of tweets. Eventually, the pair dashed
into the Associated Press offices in downtown Los Angeles, where
reporters are still waiting for Nakamoto to emerge.
Fans see Bitcoin as a digital-world currency beyond the government
interference, while critics, whose ranks swelled with the recent
close of major bitcoin exchanges Mt. Gox, see a risky investment
whose anonymity aids drug dealers and other criminals.
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Nakamoto kept a low profile in part to avoid attention of
authorities, Newsweek said, and indeed on Thursday the office of
Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of
Financial Services, was keen on speaking with him, a source familiar
with the situation told Reuters.
Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent
of central control. Its value soared last year, and the total worth
of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.
In the Newsweek article, Nakamoto was credited by Bitcoin's chief
scientist, Gavin Andresen, in working out the first codes behind the
A man of few words who refused to discuss anything beyond the
currency or even communicate outside of email, Nakamoto was
described by his brother in the Newsweek article as "fickle and has
very weird hobbies," including a penchant for model trains.
The Japanese-born Nakamoto displayed an unusual aptitude for math as
a child. He immigrated with his mother to California in 1959. He was
worked for defense and electronics company Hughes Aircraft, but
never discussed work because much of it was classified, according to
Newsweek interviews with several friends and relatives.
"He's very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking. Smart,
intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You name it, he
can do it," Newsweek quoted Arthur Nakamoto, his younger brother, as
(Reporting by Brandon Lowrey and Aron
Ranen; writing by Edwin Chan; editing by Peter Henderson)
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