Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright, who claims he's Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of bitcoin, has been slapped with a $10.2 billion lawsuit accusing him of trying to steal blockchain intellectual property rights and more than $5 billion worth of bitcoin.
In the federal lawsuit filed in a Florida district court, the estate of deceased computer genius Dave Kleiman claims Wright tried to swindle Kleinman out of the bitcoin stash they collectively held, as well as IP rights to blockchain technologies they collaborated on.
Wright and Kleiman (pictured at right) had worked on bitcoin since its humble beginnings stemming back to 2008. Together, they mined bitcoin and amassed more than 1.1 million bitcoin tokens, according to the court filing.
In 2011, Kleiman and Wright founded a Florida-based bitcoin mining and software development company called W&K Info Defense Research LLC. Kleiman owned 50% to 100% of W&K, according to the lawsuit filed by his brother Ira, who sued on behalf of Dave's estate.
Mined More Than 1.1 Million Bitcoin Tokens
During their collaboration dating back to 2008, the two friends worked on blockchain technologies and mined more than 1.1 million bitcoin. Using today's price, that translates to roughly $11 billion.
Wright never shared that massive bitcoin fortune with Kleiman's estate after he died, according to the federal lawsuit.
Kleiman was wheelchair-bound following a grisly 1995 motorcycle accident, and died in 2013 from complications from an MRSA super-bug infection. He was 46.
Wright is currently chief scientist at blockchain firm nChain. In 2016, he made headlines when he claimed he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin. That revelation was met with both excitement and skepticism. (See also: Has Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto Been Found?)
There were numerous rumors that Kleiman was in fact Satoshi, but due to his early death, this remains an unsolved mystery. There has also been speculation that Tesla billionaire Elon Musk is Satoshi, but he denied those rumors. (See also: Elon Musk Reveals How Much Bitcoin He Owns.)
Was Kleiman's Signature Faked?
Dave Kleiman's estate claims he was the rightful owner of more than $5 billion worth of bitcoin and other intellectual property he developed during the years he and Wright worked together.
The lawsuit claims Wright tried to con Kleiman's estate out of his rightful property by using bogus signatures on legal documents.
The plaintiffs attached an Exhibit (see below) that compared Kleiman's signature and the ones found on several contracts that Wright used to claim ownership to the intellectual property and bitcoin discussed in the lawsuit.
In their court papers, Kleiman's estate pointed out that not only do the signatures look "substantially different," but the electronic signatures on relevant contracts look exactly like a generic computer-generated font. (See also: Rapper 50 Cent Denies He's a Bitcoin Millionaire Amid Media Hype.)
"The electronic signatures that appear on these documents are substantially different than known examples of Dave’s electronic and written signatures," the complaint alleges. "This signature appears to be a near identical copy of a computer-generated font called Otto."
Craig Wright has not publicly commented on the lawsuit, but was blasé when asked about it on Twitter. Wright expressed enthusiasm about attending a Tokyo bitcoin event in March.
When a Twitter follower asked: "Craig you're getting sued for 10 billion dollars how can you afford to go?" Wright quipped: "I am fine."
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