Craig Wright writing math equations
Bitcoin,  People

EXCLUSIVE Craig Wright: What I’ll do with Satoshi Nakamoto’s billions

The self-proclaimed Bitcoin creator modestly compares himself to Andrew Carnegie and Muhammed Ali, and says he’ll give Satoshi’s billions away

Craig Wright has said a bitcoin fortune worth somewhere around $7 billion should revert to him in January 2020. Will that happen? If it does, what will happen next? We have no clue.

But Wright said a few things in our last interview that suggested he will give Satoshi’s billions away.

[Editor’s Note: Having long claimed to be Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, nChain founder and Bitcoin SV backer Craig Wright has said in court and out that the million-plus bitcoins mined at the beginning of the blockchain are locked away in the Tulip Trust. 

Worth about $7 billion at press time, Wright has said the trust is encrypted with multiple keys held by a variety of people. Enough to open it is scheduled to be delivered to him in January 2020. He’s also said that he won’t get enough keys to open the encryption by himself—one of the discrepancies that led to a judge calling him a liar recently.

A great many people in the cryptocurrency community believe Wright’s claim to be the pseudonymous author of the Bitcoin whitepaper is a lie. They have been waiting anxiously this month to roll around to see if the bonded courier Wright has said will deliver the key codes actually shows up. This would—theoretically—allow Wright to move one of those bitcoins. Doing so would go a long way towards proving he really is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Wright is being sued by the brother of his late partner, Dave Kleiman, who believes Wright stole his brother’s half of those bitcoins. So, if Wright does have control of those bitcoins, he’ll have to access them at least to the satisfaction of the court.]

Brendan J. Sullivan: I have a question that might sound naïve. Why are you fighting this lawsuit? You’re not American, you don’t even like this country that much. You didn’t have to show up in Florida [for the Kleiman trial]. 

Craig Wright: I like New York. I just don’t like all the South. 

Whether you say it or not, I believe in the rule of law. I believe you go through a lot of shit in court cases but eventually everything gets sorted. Unfortunately, it becomes a media spectacle in this world, which it shouldn’t be. 

Will he give Satoshi’s billions away?

BJS: You and I talked about this over the years. The amount of money they’re talking about now is not a healthy amount of money for people to own. Maybe [$7 billion at current prices. –Ed.] is what we’re talking about. 

CW: Worse, [it’s a] liquid cash type asset. It’s horrible. 

BJS: You can’t go on vacation again and hike up a mountain without worrying about getting kidnapped. What is the toll of this on you and your wife?

CW: I go to large conferences and you’ll see two large guys slinking in the background somewhere. We go to things and have security guards. Life is different. It was much better when I was anonymous.

BJS: What would you want out of life now? 

CW: Exactly the same, I’d want to keep creating. I’ve got things to build and I’ll build them. I’ve got patents to file and inventions to finish. That’s it. I’ve got my family, who I love, and my inventions to keep going with. What more do people want? I don’t know about you but that’s enough for me. I couldn’t stand the idea of stopping work. If I had to stop working, I think I’d jump off a building. 

BJS: So, is it fair to say that the reason you’re fighting this [lawsuit] so hard is because your career is on the line, or your ability to freely invent things? 

CW: No, I just don’t think it’s right. 

The Carnegie Library of Homestead, Pa. is particularly magnificent…

BJS: One thing you said to me was “Once upon a time the billionaire class of the world would be responsible for caring for people, so in ancient Rome, you know, this or that rich person would pay for the aqueduct. So now it’s like, Mark Zuckerberg should be kicking in for the world.” 

CW: Yes. As I’ve said before I’ve always been Wesleyan. Wesleyan Methodist [Church of Australia], the Uniting Church. It’s the same sort of views as Andrew Carnegie. Basically, it comes down to, “Work as hard as you can. Earn as much as you can. But, give away as much as you can.” 

So, you spend your life creating, and leave something. That’s the Wesleyan philosophy. 

BJS: My local library is a Carnegie library. I love it, it’s beautiful. 

CW: People don’t seem to understand, they talk about him like he’s this evil robber-baron. This evil robber-baron that built most of the libraries in the U.S. And universities, and all these other things.

People don’t understand that if you have a single-minded focus to achieve, like creating patents and technology, building companies, etcetera, you become single-minded. 

I had to learn many different areas with Bitcoin, but it’s all one encompassing area. If you want to be truly successful, then you give up all those other things people think make life rich. It’s concentrating and owning that one part of existence that you’ll be good at.

I am the Greatest!

BJS: I’m reading a book right now that I think you’d enjoy. This is Muhammad Ali’s autobiography, “I Am the Greatest!” 

CW: Let me get something. 

BJS: [Wright returns with a framed print of the famous photo of Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston.

CW: I find him very inspiring. 

BJS: I do too. “I hated every minute of training. But I told myself, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer and live the rest of your life as a champion,’” [Ali said.]

CW: That’s a good one. It takes a lot to be an athlete at that level. 

I mean, I’ve had to sacrifice in terms of education, which is better in a way because I don’t get whacked in the head. To be an athlete at that level you have to train extensively. You don’t get this “I don’t feel like training today.” You get up and you train. 

That’s what people don’t get. If you want to be great, if you want to change the world, if you want to be remembered, if you want to do anything like that, then forget having that day off where you lie in in the morning. Forget having that horribly fattening breakfast or that extra glass of wine. I don’t think it’s something many people can understand. All these things you choose to give up. 

BJS: Muhammad Ali had to train mentally. The human being who thinks they can accomplish [something] is usually the one who gets it done. 

CW: Exactly. 

BJS: Training mentally is important. If I read every “Do as I say, the way I do it” [trolling tweet], if I followed through with that, it would really start to mess with me mentally because it would rewire me. 

CW: So, they sit there going, “We think blockchain should be this, we think Bitcoin should be that.” 

And my response is: “So what?” 

Learning sacrifice

BJS: What sacrifices do people not see, then? 

CW: Let’s take, for instance, the nature of doing courses, getting an education, whatever else. 

Over the years I did forty courses. Including travel, the actual course, everything else, and then the actual examinations, each of them [took] almost a whole week of my life. So effectively nearly a whole year of my life has just been on that technical education. On top of that, around $15,000 including the travel, the accommodations, and the $6,000-$7,000 course [fees]. That’s enough for most people to buy a house. 

Then, I’m working on my 19th or 20th degree—I don’t even know how many degrees I have. I’m doing two PhD.’s at the moment. I have a PhD already so I don’t need to get “doctor” up on my name again, I want the education. I’ve done multiple masters degrees. Most people get a single masters degree and they stop. 

Each of those cost between $20,000 and $40,000 U.S. dollars. All these things I could have been spending money on, could have been having holidays when I was younger, but I didn’t.  All that went to education, to buying books on topics I wanted to learn. 

To get 10 degrees costs a lot of money. [Editor’s Note: He said 10 degrees here, as opposed to the “19 to 20” referenced above.] I have over $1 million worth of investment in myself. All of which, I don’t think people understand. Rather than paying off your house, you’re paying off another degree. You’re basically sinking more and more money into doing more and more things. Buying the textbooks. 

BJS: I’ve never been able to figure this out on my own [even though] I’ve had to research you for 50 stories over the years. What are your degrees in, that you can remember? 

CW: All sorts of topics. Computer science, economics, theology, law—I’ve got a masters in law, and I’m actually working on my doctorate in law at the moment. I’m a second-year PhD. student at Leicester University here in the U.K. 

[I’ve got a] master of science, master of science and engineering, master of engineering management, master of management, some wacky ones, like a BA in art history. Undergraduate-level psychology, Econometrics, Finance…

Chemistry, but I haven’t figured out a use for that one yet. I enjoyed it because I did well in school. But since the ‘90s I haven’t had a single use for a Chemistry degree other than blowing stuff up when I had a farm. 

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Brendan Sullivan is a writer, producer, and author of the memoir Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Disclosure: he owns cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter.