Bitcoin community sleuths are already attempting to debunk the reported proof that Dr. Craig Wright is the creator of Bitcoin, the face behind the Satoshi Nakamoto moniker.
Early this morning the BBC published a report about Dr. Wright, which claimed that he provided “technical proof” of his Bitcoin creator identity. Giving a demonstration in London to BBC, The Economist, and GQ, Wright “digitally signed messages using cryptographic keys created during the early days of Bitcoin’s development.” Reacting to this demonstration, The Economist Reported, “Having been named as Mr. Nakamoto once, unconvincingly, Mr. Wright has a steep hill to climb to convince the world that he is indeed bitcoin’s founder.” The report went on to say, “We are not so sure,” leaving readers with no certainty that Wright is indeed Satoshi. The BBC concluded by saying that Wright planned to provide further proof of his identity to other individuals in the Bitcoin community.
Despite the doubt from The Economist, Wright seems to have convinced some Bitcoin titans. In a personal blog post, Bitcoin Foundation Founding Director Jon Matonis says, “During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical. Based on what I witnessed, it is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories.” Most notably, Bitcoin icon Gavin Andresen has expressed his belief in Wright’s identity, making statements on both Reddit and his personal blog. On Reddit, Andresen said:
“Craig signed a message that I chose (‘Gavin’s favorite number is eleven. CSW’ if I recall correctly) using the private key from block number 1. That signature was copied on to a clean usb stick I brought with me to London, and then validated on a brand-new laptop with a freshly downloaded copy of electrum. I was not allowed to keep the message or laptop (fear it would leak before Official Announcement).”
In a short post on his personal blog, Andresen elaborated on his belief. Summarizing his trip to London to meet Wright, Andresen said:
“Part of that time was spent on a careful cryptographic verification of messages signed with keys that only Satoshi should possess. But even before I witnessed the keys signed and then verified on a clean computer that could not have been tampered with, I was reasonably certain I was sitting next to the Father of Bitcoin.”
Dr. Wright himself made a public announcement on his own blog. This morning, Wright published “Jean-Paul Sartre, Signing and Significance.” In the post Wright, speaking as the creator of Bitcoin, expressed his thanks to those who have contributed to his project. “I cannot summon the words to express the depth of my gratitude to those that have supported the bitcoin project from its inception,” Wright says, “You have dedicated vast swathes of your time, committed your gifts, sacrificed relationships and REM sleep for years to an open source project that could have come to nothing. And yet still you fought.”
In dramatic fashion, Wright concluded his address to the Bitcoin community by saying, “Satoshi is dead, But this is only the beginning.”
The rest of Wright’s post is dedicated to proving that he is the real Satoshi. Presented as the strongest piece of evidence to prove his claim, Wright provided the following signature:
With seemingly strong proof and the support of Bitcoin superstars, the possibility of Wright actually being Satoshi Nakamoto seems like an obvious reality. However, true to their skeptical nature, the Bitcoin community is pushing back against Wright’s claims.
Not to be outdone by Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen, the skeptical camp of the Bitcoin community has some heavy hitters of their own. Although not directly questioning Wright’s identity, Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos defaulted to his standard view of Satoshi’s identity, saying, “I’m not playing the ‘Who is Satoshi’ game. As I’ve said many times before, it doesn’t matter.
Antonopoulos went on to unleash a torrent of Twitter updates hammering home his belief in the insignificance of Satoshi’s true identity:
On Reddit, Bitcoin community leader Theymos claimed, “Craig Wright’s signature is worthless.” In the Reddit thread, Theymos features a discovery made by Redditor JoukeH, who “discovered that the signature on Craig Wright’s blog post is not a signature of any ‘Sartre’ message, but just the signature inside of Satoshi’s 2009 Bitcoin transaction.” Theymos continues, “It absolutely doesn’t show that Wright is Satoshi, and it does very strongly imply that the purpose of the blog post was to deceive people.” In conclusion, Theymos says, “So Craig Wright is once again shown to be a likely scammer. When will the media learn?
In that same thread, Redditors advanced a number of criticisms against Wright, even going as far as suggesting that Gavin Andresen could have possibly been hacked, and that his blog post stating his belief in Wright’s identity may not be Andresen’s own words.
On competing subreddit r/btc, users reacted to Andresen’s comment explaining the process undergone when Wright “proved” to Andresen that he was in fact Satoshi:
Ycombinator user mappum posted proof that he believed “debunked” Wright’s claims of being Satoshi:
“The signature in Wright’s post is just pulled straight from a transaction on the blockchain. Convert the base64 signature from his post (MEUCIQDBKn1Uly8m0UyzETObUSL4wYdBfd4ejvtoQfVcNCIK4AIgZmMsXNQWHvo6KDd2Tu6euEl13VTC3ihl6XUlhcU+fM4=) to hex (3045022100c12a7d54972f26d14cb311339b5122f8c187417dde1e8efb6841f55c34220ae0022066632c5cd4161efa3a2837764eee9eb84975dd54c2de2865e9752585c53e7cce), and you get the signature found in this transaction input: https://blockchain.info/tx/828ef3b079f9c23829c56fe86e85b4a69…
Note that the base64 string at the top of his post isn’t a signature, just a cleartext message: ” Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi.\n\n”.
Now the only question is how he fooled Gavin. I would imagine this story will still get spread around some naive channels for a while, just like the last time Wright tried something like this.
Credit goes to jouke in #bitcoin for figuring it out.”
The Bitcoin markets seem to be reacting to this controversy, with traders selling in what looks like an effort to secure profit in anticipation of community upheaval.
After spending some time stabilized in the $450s following profit taking at the $470 USD level, the price entered a decline once again. As of press time, the bitcoin price stands at $442 USD.
Meanwhile, Ether is on the rise again, hinting at traders securing investments in case things get nasty in the Bitcoin space. At press time, Coingecko reports that the Ether price is at $9.20 USD, rising considerably in the last three days from $7.47 USD on April 29.
As more research emerges, doubts regarding the legitimacy of Wright’s claims grow. Bitcoinist will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they become available.
What do you think about Craig Wright’s claims, is he really Satoshi Nakamoto? Let us know in the comments below!
Evan is the Senior Editor of Bitcoin.com. He has a bachelor's degree in History with minors in Economics and Political Science. When he's not acting like he knows what he's doing in the newsroom, Evan is most likely playing video games. Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanFaggart.
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