The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto – the pseudonymous, enigmatic creator of Bitcoin – could potentially be revealed in a Florida court case where around $66 billion worth of the cryptocurrency is potentially at stake.
The family of deceased David Kleiman is suing his former business partner over control of their partnerships' assets. According to the Wall Street Journal, the family claims that Kleiman and his business partner Craig Wright created Bitcoin under the pseudonym Nakamoto, together mining a stash of 1.1 million bitcoins, valued at more than $66 billion at the time of writing.
Wright is a 51-year-old Australian computer scientist who has previously claimed to be the main player in the team that created Bitcoin, together with Kleiman, an American computer forensics expert who died in 2013. There’s some evidence to back up Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto, but most people in the cryptocurrency community remain unconvinced, with some alleging he is running an elaborate hoax.
To make matters even more complicated, some believe these Bitcoin don’t even exist and Wright has not yet publicly shown he has access to the Nakamoto wallet. It was also previously stated that Nakamoto – whoever they may be – never met with any collaborators in person, only communicating via the internet. You might assume this would make it easier to chronicle and recount the nature of any supposed business partnership, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
The family of Kleiman reportedly plans to provide evidence proving that Wright worked closely with Kleiman throughout the inception of Bitcoin, and his family deserves half of the Nakamoto wallet. On the other hand, Wright will argue that their relationship was not a 50/50 partnership and Kleiman never had ownership of the Bitcoins being mined.
"We believe the evidence will show there was a partnership to create and mine over one million bitcoin," Vel Freedman, Kleiman family lawyer, told the Wall Street Journal.
On the other hand, defense lawyer Andrés Rivero intends to prove that Wright has ownership of the hefty Bitcoin stash: "We believe the court will find there's nothing to indicate or record that they were in a partnership."
This is where the trial in Florida could get sticky. If the jury hypothetically rules in favor of the Kleiman family, Wright may have to hand over half the fortune. At this point, it will become clear whether or not Wright really does have access to the stash – and thereby hint whether he is or isn’t Nakamoto.
The trial is ongoing and is expected to last another week.