Man Who Forgot Bitcoin Password Makes 'Peace' with $250 Million Loss: 'Time Heals All Wounds'

Jen Juneau
·3 min read

A San Francisco man said he has "made peace" with the $250 million fortune that may have gotten away from him as a result of misplacing his Bitcoin password.

In a Wednesday interview with local news station KGO-TV, Stefan Thomas explained that his 7,002 Bitcoin — which equates to nearly $250 million, as of Friday afternoon — have been out of his grasp since 2012.

But those nine years have given Thomas enough time to process the potential loss. And while he says "time heals all wounds," the moments he first realized he couldn't access his cryptocurrency account were harrowing, to say the least.

"There were sort of a couple weeks where I was just desperate — I don't have any other word to describe it," Thomas told KGO-TV. "You sort of question your own self-worth: 'What kind of person loses something that important?' "

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Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Bitcoin illustration

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Thomas said he has used up of eight of his 10 tries to get the password right, having lost the paper he wrote it down on in 2012, and people around the world have tried to help him out.

"One person suggested, have you tried the word 'password'?" he said. "Some people have recommended various mediums, psychics, prophets that I could talk to. Some people are suggesting nootropic memory-enhancing drugs."

Eventually, Thomas reached "a really big milestone in [his] life where" he "realized how [he] was going to define [his] self-worth going forward."

"It wasn't going to be about how much money I have in my bank account," he told KGO-TV.

Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Bitcoin logo, price and graph

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Thomas, a programmer who was born in Germany, told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday that he was given the 7,002 Bitcoin by, as the Times describes it, "an early Bitcoin fanatic" after making a video titled "What Is Bitcoin?" that explained the ins and outs of the cryptocurrency.

"I would just lay in bed and think about it," he told the publication about losing the money and his attempts to log back in to his digital wallet. "Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn't work, and I would be desperate again."

No doubt at least somewhat as a result of his experience, Thomas now believes there's a good reason that traditional financial institutions exist, as opposed to open-source money-exchange solutions like Bitcoin.

"This whole idea of being your own bank — let me put it this way: Do you make your own shoes?" he told the Times. "The reason we have banks is that we don't want to deal with all those things that banks do."