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How Many Bitcoins Are Lost?

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How Many Bitcoins Are In Circulation?

As of mid-October 2020, there have been 18,524,251 Bitcoins mined since the first one came into existence on January 3, 2009. Every four years the flow of new Bitcoins will be cut in half until the last one is mined in 2140 leaving a total supply of 21 million and after that, there will never be another one created. This protocol was put into place to create scarcity and prevent inflation.

How Many Have Been Lost?

With so many Bitcoin already in circulation, many people are curious about the number of bitcoins that have been lost after mining due to misplaced private keys or thrown away harddisks. So far it is estimated about 4 million bitcoins have been lost that may never be recovered.

  • 1.1 BTC are owned by the inventor of Bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto and have never been moved. Rumor has it that these were lost when he experienced a hard drive failure. This rumor has not been confirmed.
  • It is estimated that 7,500 Bitcoins have been lost due to misplaced or thrown away hard drives. For this reason alone is a good idea to always keep backups.
  • After the death of the Canadian exchange CEO of QuadrigaCX Gerald Cotten, the company said it was unable to access the wallets holding customer funds due to the fact that Cotten was the only one in possession of the passwords. It is estimated that 1,000 BTC were lost.
  • A Reddit user by the name of Shotukan gave his brother a laptop who then purchased 533 BTC when it was worth only a few cents. When his brother passed away, Shotukan was able to retrieve the laptop but the hard drive was missing. So far he is still hunting for this lost hard drive.
  • An estimated 2,100 plus BTC have been sent to a burn address. Burning Bitcoins not only allows a miner the right to compete for the next block but also gives them the chance to receive blocks during a longer period of time, for at least a year or more.
  • There are an estimated 2,200 plus Bitcoins lost due to bogus addresses. This is why it is always important that you put the correct address when doing transactions.
  • Sometimes there are bugs in the system that can cause Bitcoins to be lost. There is an estimated 2,600 plus BTC lost because of this.
  • Nearly 1,500 Bitcoins are listed as “Zombie Coins” that have been purchased but have never been moved. It is hard to tell if these are actually lost or the users just haven’t moved them.

It is hard to get an accurate figure of exactly how many are gone for good. One thing is for sure is that the majority are lost due to human error so be sure to do your research and learn the basics of Bitcoin transactions and how to make them.





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