Here’s the Solution to the 3-Year-Old, $50,000 Bitcoin Puzzle

Here’s the Solution to the 3-Year-Old, $50,000 Bitcoin Puzzle

 

Motherboard spoke with the person who solved ‘The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto’ and won over $50,000.

On Thursday morning, a closely watched Bitcoin wallet address known as 1FLAMEN6 had a surprise transaction that drained the account of its five bitcoins, worth nearly $50,000 at the time. This Bitcoin wallet belonged to a crypto artist who goes by @coin_artist on Twitter, but she wasn’t despairing about the lost bitcoins—in fact, she was ecstatic.

The 1FLAMEN6 wallet was attached to a puzzle designed by @coin_artist and fellow crypto artist Rob Myers in 2015. The puzzle centered on a painting created by @coin_artist called “TORCHED H34R7S.” It was the final piece of a series of minor puzzles that had to be solved before the painting could be accessed for a shot at discovering the private key to the 1FLAMEN6 Bitcoin wallet. When @coin_artist saw someone had swiped the bitcoins from the wallet on Thursday morning, she knew the puzzle had finally been solved—almost three years after she created it.

@coin_artist told me that she hadn’t originally expected the puzzle to take so long to solve. After it was announced on the popular Bitcointalk forum, an obsessive community soon formed that was dedicated to solving the puzzle. Yet when no one was able to crack the code after months of effort, @coin_artist said interest in the project began to wane.

“People had largely given up prior to the bull run,” @coin_artist told me on Telegram. “I think Bitcoin’s price rejuvenated interest in 2017.”

According to Isaac*, the 30-year old programmer who actually solved the puzzle, he hadn’t even heard of the puzzle until a little over a month ago. (Isaac’s name has been changed to protect his anonymity. As he told me on Telegram, “it’s not safe to have Bitcoin in my country.”) He told me he originally found the puzzle because he and his wife enjoy solving riddles and he was deliberately looking for puzzles related to cryptocurrencies.

Isaac detailed his process of solving the puzzle to me in a chat, and his solution was corroborated by @coin_artist. He shared screenshots of his conversations with other puzzle players, and to prove that he was in fact in control of the coins, Isaac also signed a message to the wallet address using the phrase that was placed before the start of the Bitcoin wallet private key coded into the painting.

That phrase was “B34u7y, truth, and rarity.”

Like almost everything in the “TORCHED H34R7S” painting, the phrase is loaded with meaning. According to @coin_artist, it’s a reference to William Shakespeare’s famous poem, “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” The poem itself is something of a mystery and has been the subject of rampant speculation about who Shakespeare was referring to when he spoke of the Turtle and the Phoenix. Moreover a turtledove and phoenix feature prominently in @coin_artist’s painting.

Isaac detailed his process of solving the puzzle to me in a chat, and his solution was corroborated by @coin_artist. He shared screenshots of his conversations with other puzzle players, and to prove that he was in fact in control of the coins, Isaac also signed a message to the wallet address using the phrase that was placed before the start of the Bitcoin wallet private key coded into the painting.

It also had emotional ties to @coin_artist’s personal life.

Including this nod to Shakespeare in the painting “was important to me because events flipped my life upside down and I created this piece at rock bottom,” @coin_artist said. “The painting was also created during the toughest part of the bear market and those original bitcoins I loaded into that address were half of everything I had to my name. It was essentially a prayer that things would get better.”

HOW THE PUZZLE WORKED

Although the painting was done by @coin_artist, she worked closely with Myers to encode the key into the artwork. Retrieving the private key to the Bitcoin wallet required puzzle players to combine and extract two pieces of data from the painting: the data hidden in the flames flanking its edges, and the data hidden in the ribbons tied around the key in the bottom right corner.

The six ribbons tied around the key in the painting correspond to a six-bit cipher that acts as a literal key to the rest of the puzzle. There are two types of ribbons tied around the key—short ribbons and long ribbons— and each type corresponds to a bit value. Short ribbons are a 0 and long ribbons are 1, which means that the cipher hidden in the key has a value of 011010.

“I remember @coin_artist showed me some of the discussion about the puzzle and people were really interested in the chessboard,” Myers told me in a Telegram chat. “They were looking for a binary pattern. People seemed to be very interested in everything except the key, and it was literally a key.”

That phrase was “B34u7y, truth, and rarity.”

Like almost everything in the “TORCHED H34R7S” painting, the phrase is loaded with meaning. According to @coin_artist, it’s a reference to William Shakespeare’s famous poem, “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” The poem itself is something of a mystery and has been the subject of rampant speculation about who Shakespeare was referring to when he spoke of the Turtle and the Phoenix. Moreover a turtledove and phoenix feature prominently in @coin_artist’s painting.

 

(Collected from www.motherboard.vice.com)






Questions?
Click here to chat with us

Live Now
Irine

Live Now : Irine

_