Man dies with £100m of cryptocurrency on computer – but no-one knows password

A man has died with more than £100million of cryptocurrencies on his computer – but no-one knows the password to access the money.

Canadian Gerald Cotten died suddenly aged 30 in December from complications with Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an orphanage in India.

Cotten was the founder of Quadriga, an online platform that allows trading of Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum – cyber-currencies that do not physically exist but can be bought and sold on the internet.

The firm’s main computer had 180million Canadian dollars (£105million) of cryptocurrency saved on it when he died, belonging to tens of thousands of subscribers.

Cotten’s widow Jennifer Robertson said she has been unable to find the password or recovery key written down anywhere since the entrepreneur died.

She said in a court document: “Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere.”

This, she added, has “left in excess of $180million of coins in cold storage”.  

The cryptocurrencies – including Bitcoin – have gone into “cold storage” without any way of accessing them

Robertson said she was not involved in Cotten’s business while he was alive and did not know the password.

The widow said that she has consulted an expert who has had “limited success in recovering a few coins and some information” from Cotten’s other computer and mobile phones – but the majority remains untouched on his main computer.

Quadriga’s troubles highlight the unique challenges of cryptocurrencies, Dean Skurka, vice-president of rival platform Bitbuy.ca, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“This really highlights the need for the government to take action and regulate cryptocurrency exchanges,” Skurka said.

Robertson said in an affidavit, filed on behalf of her late husband’s company, that she had received online threats and “slanderous comments”, including questions about the nature of Cotten’s death, and whether he is really dead.

Quadriga filed for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court last week.

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