How Dorian Nakamoto Became Satoshi Nakamoto
In 2014, Newsweek doxxed Dorian Nakamoto, an unassuming senior, as the creator of bitcoin. The bumbling Dorian, who claimed never to have heard of the digital currency, was besieged by journalists for days, prompting him to plot a harassment lawsuit. As introductions to bitcoin go, Dorian’s was hellish. And yet, three years on from the false dox, something strange has happened: Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto has embraced the bitcoin life and assumed the persona of his faceless namesake.
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Would the Real Satoshi Please Stand Up
At Bitconf 2017, a gathering of bitcoin luminaries and blockchain startups held on December 4-5 in Colombia, there were the usual faces including veteran cryptographer Nick Szabo. Also in attendance was an elderly Japanese-American whose hobbies include model trains and who has struggled to find work for the past decade, save for brief stints as a laborer, poll-taker, and substitute teach. Dorian S. Nakamoto.
How did the man once misidentified as the creator of bitcoin wind up thousands of miles from home at a bitcoin conference? A man who was once forced to issue a statement through his lawyer noting:
Newsweek’s false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year old mother, my siblings, and their families.
In the three years since Dorian was misidentified as Satoshi, a lot has happened to bitcoin. And a lot has happened in the life of the now 67-year-old who got off on the wrong foot with bitcoin. In the intervening years, Dorian’s stance on the cryptocurrency has softened. At the fifth annual Bitconf in Bogotá, Dorian Nakamoto looked relaxed. He seemed to be relishing his role as the fake Satoshi, and even attended a press conference with the event’s organizers.
There, he shared his perspective on winding up unexpectedly as the face of the world’s hottest digital currency. Dorian recalled the first time he learned of bitcoin, after son Erick contacted him to report that a journalist had been digging into his background. He added:
[They] approached my wife and asked her personal things. And I did not like it when they approached my children later. Why would I involve my children? I am not a superstar, I am not a public person…I believe in freedom of expression, but I do not believe that the media should take a person from his private life and wash his dirty laundry, including my medical history, including my recent battle with cancer.
A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Dorian Nakamoto wasn’t Satoshi Nakamoto in 2014 and yet, to all intents and purposes, that’s effectively what he’s become. Being identified as the creator of bitcoin, despite the scrutiny it invites, can also be lucrative, as Craig Wright, “the other Satoshi” can attest. Despite Wright’s claims to have invented bitcoin being disproved, the Australian seems to have had no trouble securing funding since then for his work on blockchain scaling.
Few would begrudge Dorian Nakamoto, “the original Satoshi”, a chance to cash in on his e-fame and have a little fun in the process. Even without the elderly man’s say-so, he’s become the face of bitcoin, his “Nope” reaction face having been memed hard and purposed for everything from Telegram stickers to t-shirts.
Memed Into Being
At Bitconf, Dorian S. Nakamoto spoke of his discomfort at being doxxed as Satoshi and the protracted legal battle that ensued. Unemployed and strapped for cash, Dorian confessed: “I had to make a big decision. Should I fight Newsweek or not? And finally I said no.”
The former teacher hasn’t warmed to the publication in the years since, but the bitcoin community has warmed to Dorian – and the occasionally cantankerous grandfather has reciprocated. It’s a happy end to an unhappy story.
For conspiracy theorists, the sight of Dorian Nakamoto rubbing shoulders with the likes of Nick Szabo at bitcoin conferences is evidence that perhaps Newsweek were onto something after all. Could Dorian have found a way to become the face of his creation, whilst dissuading attempts to steal his multi-billion dollar fortune? If so, it would have to go down as Satoshi’s smartest trick yet. We will likely never know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, who now may rank among the 50 richest people in the world. In his absence, substitute teacher Dorian S. Nakamoto seems a fitting choice to become the substitute face of bitcoin.