satoshi nakamotoHunter Schwarz

Nakamoto recap: 48 hours in the bizarro saga of the Bitcoin creator's (possible) outing

It’s something straight out of a tech blogger’s fever dream: A print magazine comes back from the dead to announce it’s found the creator of Bitcoin. Journalists respond with their best reenactment of the OJ Simpson chase. The alleged Bitcoin creator denies any involvement with the crypto-currency. The “real” creator of Bitcoin reemerges to state as much.

Oy. Pass the Advil. Join us as we relive the confusing, twisting tale of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto.

Thursday morning: As part of its grand return to print, Newsweek publishes a massive, 4600-word piece in which it claims to expose the person who first created Bitcoin. Bitcoin watchers always presumed that “Satoshi Nakamoto” was only a pseudonym that the Bitcoin creator—or creators—used, but Newsweek tracked it back to Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old man living in Southern California. Newsweek even received what seemed to be a tacit admission from Dorian. Case closed... or so it seemed.

Redditors, as Poynter noted, were none too happy to learn about the Newsweek story.

Later Thursday morning: Cue the obligatory media circus. As the Los Angeles Times reported, journalists swarmed Dorian’s home, hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive “face behind Bitcoin”—and maybe, just maybe, get a scoop of their own.

Thursday, around lunchtime: Dorian emerges from his home... and according to an Instagram video from BuzzFeed reporter Hunter Schwarz, he proceeds to deny everything. He doesn’t answer any questions from the mob of reporters. Instead, he asks for a free lunch, and according to Joe Bel Bruno of the LA Times, cherry picks a reporter from the Associated Press, who later interviews him.

Click the Instagram video below for a very emphatic Dorian Nakamoto denial.

Thursday afternoon: Dorian leaves with AP reporter Joe Bel Bruno, and this being Los Angeles, other reporters pursue him in what might have been one of the strangest car chases in Los Angeles history. All that seemed to be missing was the white Ford Bronco.

The two go to a local sushi restaurant, but after the teeming mob of journalists gain entry to the restaurant, they proceed to the AP offices in Downtown Los Angeles. The other reporters continue their pursuit.

Late Thursday afternoon: Dorian speaks with AP reporters for two hours—with other reporters waiting outside, natch, as the LA Times documents—and presumably continues to deny any involvement in Bitcoin. Later, the AP publishes a story in which Dorian explains that his “admission” in the Newsweek article was the result of a misunderstanding. Confused, the Internet isn’t sure what to think. Perhaps there is a Santa Claus, Virginia, but this may not be him.

Thursday evening: The “real” Satoshi Nakamoto reemerges after years of radio silence to post a brief comment on a message board: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” The Internet, in all its snarky glory, takes to Twitter to poke fun at Newsweek.

Friday morning: In response to mounting criticism of its story, Newsweek publishes a statement to defend its story. It closes with the following: “Moreover, it encourages all to be respectful of the privacy and rights of the individuals involved.” The Internet replies with a collective “O RLY?”

Later Friday morning: Members of the Bitcoin community start a fundraiser for Dorian Nakamoto to help him cover any expenses incurred as a result of the Newsweek story. Good on ya, Internet.

Friday afternoon: TechCrunch was able to verify that the email address linked to the denial posted by the “real” Satoshi Nakamoto is in fact the same address that created the original 2009 post that introduced Bitcoin to humanity. 

Also Friday afternoon: As reported in the LA Times, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies say Newsweek correctly quoted Dorian in its original story. Specifically, the deputies heard Dorian say, “I’m no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,” when questioned by Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman about his role in Bitcoin’s creation. It’s a small victory for Newsweek, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that Dorian misinterpreted Goodman’s question.

What will come next? We’ll update the story as events unfold.

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