Like a lot of successful business people, the man or woman known to the world as Satoshi Nakamoto has a lot of stock in the business that he (or she) made his bones on – Bitcoin. Due to recent surges in the online cryptocurrency's value, reports have Nakamoto's fortune in bitcoins valued at around $700 million. But unlike a lot of those same successful business people, no one seems to have any idea who Satoshi Nakamoto actually is.
Earlier this week, Bitcoin's value hit a recent peak at $719 per bitcoin, and has hovered around the $700 mark ever since. One of the things that distinguishes Bitcoin's activity in the marketplace, though, is its extreme volatility, with entire fortunes potentially being lost or gained in the space of a day or two thanks to the vagaries of economics and currency that no one truly understands. But everyone agrees that Bitcoin is in a bullish period right now, and since Nakamoto has more of the online money-alternative than anyone else, he's standing to make the most money – one recent estimate has Nakamoto as having at least a million bitcoins in his digital possession, which as a nice, round figure makes it easy to estimate about how much that would be worth in real-world dollars (the aforementioned $700 million). There is a catch, however.
Actually, there are two catches: One is that if Nakamoto wants to keep his identity a secret, we'll never know exactly how rich he's gotten from having developed Bitcoin or from his million-bitcoins-strong fortune. But the second catch is even more important – if he were to begin selling off his piles of bitcoins, the value would be driven down significantly, making the "real" value of his bitcoins much lower in the real world than it seems to be now. One of the reasons for this is Nakamoto's massive stake in Bitcoin, which comes to 6.4% of all bitcoins currently being circulated. That means any move he makes would have a huge impact on the value of the currency (to put that 6.4% figure in perspective, a hypothetical person with 6.4% of all US legal tender in circulation now would have $70.1 billion in cash in their possession.
Theories abound on what will happen to Nakamoto's Bitcoin fortune, whether he or she ended up "destroying" it (something that is possible in the world of Bitcoin), or that Nakamoto's disappearance might be mortally permanent. Hal Finney, Bitcoin's former number 2 man after Nakamoto, died in 2014 and many have speculated that Nakamoto was simply a secret identity created by Finney. If Nakamoto is still alive, though, whoever it is deserves credit for staying hidden from the public with a $700 million fortune – not an easy task in 2016.