Bitcoin: press frenzy and car chase as 'founder' denies all

Mar 7, 2014

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto asks for 'free lunch' and tells reporter he has nothing to do with 'Bitcom'

George Frey/Getty Images)

A 64-YEAR-OLD model steam train enthusiast who was 'outed' by Newsweek as the inventor of Bitcoin has denied any connection to the virtual currency. 

Following a two-month investigation by reporter Leah McGrath Goodman and a team of forensic analysts, Newsweek yesterday published a 4,500-word cover story about Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, the Japanese-American they believe to be the father of Bitcoin.

The article triggered a media frenzy outside Nakamoto's house in Temple City, east of Los Angeles, where he peeked out from behind curtains several times before finally coming out. He told reporters that he had nothing to do with Bitcoin and asked if anyone who spoke Japanese would take him for a "free lunch".

An Associated Press reporter promptly obliged and drove him away, with the rest of the press following in what the Daily Telegraph describes as a "dramatic car chase".

Over sushi, Nakamoto told the AP reporter that he had never even heard of Bitcoin until Newsweek began contacting his family. As he read through the story, he apparently repeated "oh jeez" as he found private details about himself, quotes from family members and even specifics from his medical history. Several times during the interview, he mistakenly referred to the currency as "bitcom", says AP.

He acknowledged that many of the details in the report were correct, including that he once worked for a defence contractor, and that his given name at birth was Satoshi Nakamoto – the same as that claimed by the mysterious Bitcoin founder. But he strongly disputed the magazine's assertion that he is "the face behind Bitcoin".

The New Statesman says that Newsweek's claim was based on circumstantial evidence and really only rests on an exchange between McGrath Goodman and Nakamoto outside his house, which is not in any case a confession.

McGrath Goodman claims Nakamoto told her: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

However, Nakamoto, who says his English is not flawless, claims his quote was misunderstood and he meant that he was no longer involved in engineering, not Bitcoin.

Nevertheless, McGrath Goodman stands by her story, telling AP: "There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of our conversation – and his acknowledgment of his involvement in Bitcoin."

Sign up for our daily newsletter