Is Craig Wright the multimillionaire genius behind bitcoin: the digital currency now worth over £8bn and threatening to do for banks what Uber did to cab offices? Or does he just really want people to believe he is?
Earlier this year, we were granted an interview with Wright. GQ‘s Senior Commissioning Editor Stuart McGurk met him, taking along Dr Nicolas Courtois, a lecturer in cryptology at University College London and an expert in bitcoin, as GQ’s expert witness.
As you’ll hear from the extraordinary audio excerpt below, the encounter – which took place in an office on Tottenham Court Road, central London – grew ever more heated and profane, as Wright grew ever more furious at the questioning that was aimed to verify his claim.
“You’ve got this one thing,” he said at one point. “If you don’t like it, fuck off!”
Listen to Craig Wright defend his claim
You can read the full article in the September issue of GQ, out Thursday 4 August. As GQ was to discover, this extraordinary interview was only to be the start of an even more extraordinary story.
Want more? Get the latest issue of British GQ
Alternatively, subscribe to 6 issues of GQ for only £15, including free access to our iPad iPhone editions on your Apple devices.
Read a transcript of the audio
CR: Craig Wright
SM: Stuart McGurk
NC: Dr Nicolas Courtois
CR: There aren’t any signed messages other than the transactions on the blockchain, so there is nothing to compare it to. It is cryptographically not correct. I mean, you cannot say a bad random, um, a single transaction, and then you can reverse the signing and obtain the public key – private key I should say – you can get a public key…
NC: You can get a private key from one single transaction or from one single digital signature.
CR: This is in a particular thing? Show me a paper.
NC: Ah, well it’s quite obvious it appears in many places in my public slides so it’s not…
CR: Show me! Show me or bullshit.
NC: Okay, I can show you.
CR: Show me where it happens or bullshit and walk, right now.
NC: It’s a basic fact about ECDSA that if for example you have the source code of the random number generator and you have one single signature and a public key…
CR: Where’s the source code for that generator? The nonces I used are non-standard.
NC: Well, that’s the question. I mean, if from one single signature it is possible for the private key to be compromised.
CR: Show me.
SM: Can I ask if there is another method that you would prefer that would be more conclusive? You talked about PGP key earlier.
NC: Well, this is definitely a very interesting claim, you know I’m not saying that this is not true, I’m saying that this sort of evidence is like, you know, it’s interesting but…
CW: You’ve got this one thing then I’m disappearing.
CW: I’m not doing this to get in the media, this will never happen again. You got this one thing, if you don’t like it, fuck off.
CW: You show me where, you don’t bullshit me. Or I’m walking out. I don’t give a shit. Show me now, or fucking walk. Now or walk.
NC: I can show you now, I’m going to open my slides..
SM: I think we should all be less heated… Should we just calm down?
CW: Okay, I hear one more bullshit comment about I can do it with an unknown nonce, with a whatever, you show me proof or you fuck out. One more or it’s over. Deal?
NC: I will show you. Okay so, I’m going to open my slides because they are public, I’m going to show you…
CW: Other people want me to fucking do this shit, I don’t give a shit, this is a one off thing and I’ll fucking never do it again.
SM: Of course we’re very glad to do it and I’m very glad to talk to you, I think we’ve definitely got off on the wrong foot, and I don’t really think you should feel offended…
CW: I’m not going to job through everybody’s fucking hoops. Bullshit from Maxwell that we’ve had to pay money to get bloody disproven because the codes’ fucking out there. I’m not doing this every fucking time. I’m not going to sign every fucking key I own in the world. I’ve got the first fucking nine keys, I’ve got the fucking genesis bloody block, I’ve got the fucking code, I’ve got the fucking papers. I’m not going to go through fucking everything. I don’t really give a shit whether people like it.
SM: Well, okay. I’m sorry you feel like this is being disrespectful, it was never meant to be.
CW: Comment about the being able to bloody regenerate things on a single thing, show me. Where? There are fucking thousands of transactions in bitcoin every fucking day signed with pissy fucking bloody number generators, show me one that’s been compromised.
NC: We have recovered tens of thousands of private keys in bitcoin, at my university, my students have recovered tens of thousands of them.
CW: From single transactions?
NC: Some of them from single transactions.
CW: From single transactions, not brain wallets. Single transactions. Single transactions was your comment! Single! No more bullshit! Fuck off!
NC: Absolutely possible.
CW: Fuck off! Fuck off!
NC: I have over one hundred papers in cryptography…
CW: Over! Fuck off!
NC: I’m absolutely more qualified than you… okay?
CW: Fuck off.
11 minutes later…
NC: Or have you produced any for the journalist or other people who wanted to check what happened to early bitcoins?
CW: What do you mean what happened to bitcoins?
NC: I mean have you produced any evidence about I have mined these bitcoins, I have sold them, or transferred them here etc?
CW: They haven’t moved.
JM: That’s what this is, that’s what’s on there.
CW: I haven’t moved them, I have sent them to Hal Finney and Zuku and that was it. Full stop.
NC: Yes, but there have been many other early bitcoins which you have mined, right?
CW: Which I am not going to go into all my … people are speculating enough. And none of your goddamn business what the hell I own.
NC: I understand that you are sensitive about this question but most people who want to know about Satoshi…
CW: I’m not selling!
NC: … about Satoshi Nakamoto and you know, I know cryptographers who have been claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, and they told me if he is Satoshi Nakamoto let him show us what he has done with his early bitcoins, so most people are asking this question, so you shouldn’t be surprised.
CW: They’re mine, they’re not going anywhere, I’m not selling, I’m not doing anything, the end.
NC: Well, this is a sort of, you know, unsatisfactory answer which many people will find unsatisfactory…
CW: Why? I don’t go to fucking Branson and go, where the fuck are you spending your money? None of your goddam fucking business! I mean, honestly, the other interviews were easy, this is just bullshit. My fucking money – if I’m not going to spend it that’s my fucking choice!
NC: Well, I’m sure Australian tax authorities would like to know, but people…
NC: Ah, excuse me, that’s more hearsay and bullshit. We have been fucking negotiating with these people for years it’s how much tax I pay, there is no criminal investigation, your fucking hearsay bullshit!
SM: I think this isn’t what we should be talking about in spite of this presentation, I think we should separate … this is isn’t the interview, this is kind of more for verification and your thoughts on the matter. So, have we finished the presentation side of it now?
SM: Okay, I think it’s getting a bit too heated, I think maybe we should just move on to one-to-one interview…
CW: I’m not here to fucking come out and take bloody Satoshi as a mantel and fucking take over everything, I don’t give a fuck. I’m coming here, setting things right so that my family, friends and whatever else don’t get painted with this fucking shit, then I’m fucking disappearing, got it?
SM: Okay, I think we should definitely put an end to this as it’s getting too heated…
CW: My biggest thing in life, what I enjoy the most is education, which I can’t fucking do properly anymore.
CW: I can’t go to a conference any more.
NC: Because I turn up and it’s not fucking not anonymous anymore. I’m not just some guy in the crowd ever again.