14 Dec 2022 · 3 min read

Martin Shkreli Claims to Know the Real Identity of Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto – Here's His Proof

Source: Adobe/Mihail

Disgraced biotech entrepreneur and hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli has published a finding that appears to prove who the real person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is. But the Bitcoin community is not yet convinced.

The finding was shared in a blog post published on Tuesday, where Shkreli decrypted a signature from the one of the first Bitcoin transactions ever made. The decryption can be done using “any decryption tool,” Shkreli wrote in the comments section.

As has been known since the early days of Bitcoin, the first transaction was sent from Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto to the American programmer and cypherpunk community member Hal Finney.

Shkreli’s blog post said:

The following is the Bitcoin wallet Hal Finney used to receive the first Bitcoin transfer from Satoshi.

1Q2TWHE3GMdB6BZKafqwxXtWAWgFt5Jvm3

The following signature

HM7vpPSUbNsfDHRX6gv8xxWcVNHEc/3pOk0YrVehaGoUdbWizznfzOdELkLd1EjSXsW1oE5vHAkNAPzrAVzhuoI=

decrypts to:

-----BEGIN BITCOIN SIGNED MESSAGE-----

This Transaction was made by Paul Leroux to Hal Finney on January 12, 2009 #bitcoin

-----END BITCOIN SIGNED MESSAGE-----

Is Paul Le Roux Satoshi?

Given that the wallet address is confirmed to have belonged to Hal Finney, Shkreli’s finding implies that Finney himself wanted to convey that Paul Le Roux is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Paul Le Roux is a programmer, criminal mastermind, and an informant to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US, given to him in June 2020 for arranging or participating in seven murders, as well as his role in leading a global illegal business empire.

Interestingly, it is not the first time it has been suggested that Le Roux is Satoshi. In 2019, a Wired article said several signs are pointing towards Le Roux being Satoshi, even if no hard proof has been presented.

Skeptical community

According to community members commenting under Shkreli’s blog post, it is entirely possible that the signature on the wallet was written by someone other than Hal Finney. The reason for this is that the wallet was last active in 2017, three years after Finney passed away.

According to some of the commenters, one possibility is that Finney’s family, after his passing sold access to the entire wallet rather than sending coins on-chain to a buyer. That would make sense, given that this was in the relatively early days of Bitcoin when a certain level of technical know-how was required to make transactions.

“The address was used last time in 2017, while Hal died in 2014. So someone has Hal's private key for that address and signed that bullshit message,” wrote one user called BitMax14.

The same user went on to accuse Shkreli of “being used to spread that lie” while asking who sent him the message and the signature.

Other users also followed up, with the well-known Bitcoin proponent and author Saifedean Ammous saying:

“Since these private keys have been active after Hal's death, the most interesting question here is: How did you obtain this message?”

Shkreli did not answer any of the questions about who told him about the signature and the message, but went into some more detail in a follow-up post published on Wednesday:

“A few days ago I received a message which I felt was clearly a prank: there is a new signed message by the recipient of the first bitcoin. I get a lot of cranks calling me with ‘discoveries’. But sometimes they’re real: Lil Wayne’s Carter V album appearing in a luxury car auction comes to mind.”

“It all fits”

Although many commenters were skeptical about the idea that Paul Le Roux is Satoshi Nakamoto, some supported the idea.

“It all fits. He had the motivation, the incentive. Movement of illicit gains. Very complex character. Conflicted. Highly intelligent but arrogant,” wrote one user named Bellweirdboy, while adding:

“Satoshi disappeared after Gavin Andresen told him he would be speaking to CIA. My thought is that this scared Le Roux witless. That is the real reason ‘Satoshi‘ vanished.”