Fans of The Da Vinci Code take note: a cryptic image that conceals an unknown amount of Monero is circulating the web. The image was originally created for DefCon last year, but the designer has now re-published the work in hopes that the crypto community will finally be able to solve the puzzle. However, the solution remains elusive…
This artwork is a #Monero #puzzle I made with a lot of ❤️.
There’s a private key with an unknown amount of #XMR hidden in it. Which, rumour has it, is the same @fluffypony lost in his boating accident.
Can you find it? Blow my mind!https://t.co/vrneCuhUsa pic.twitter.com/PNmVSNB9vW
— The Monera (@TheMonera) February 13, 2019
A Monumental Work
The vast tapestry, which was created by the Monera, features countless sub-images, including many Monero memes. The Church of Monero, Monero Cat, and “to the moon” are all displayed prominently. Privacy iconography is also featured heavily: the image makes reference to 1984, The Invisible Man, the Tor browser, and wartime propaganda, among other things.
Solving the puzzle involves unraveling a vast amount of clues and finding the information needed to recover an unspecified Monero wallet. Although the wallet address and its keys may be concealed in the image, it seems more likely that a seed phrase is actually hidden within, as that would concisely provide all of the information needed to access the wallet.
This means that even the references with less-than-obvious meanings may be important: Star Wars, Deadpool, Marilyn Monroe, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas have all been included in the image for reasons unknown. Many solvers believe that these images represent the seed words in some way or another.
Some solvers have speculated that the seed words aren’t hidden in any obvious order, indicating that it may be necessary to brute-force different combinations once the correct words are deduced. However, it takes considerable time to scan the Monero blockchain in this manner, and a trial-and-error solution would be at odds with the nature of the puzzle.
Instead, order may be buried deep within the puzzle: Vigenère ciphers, Morse Code, barcodes, dotcodes, and the Periodic Table of the Elements have also been embedded in the image. Solvers have not found any steganographic or hidden data (apart from what is visible to the naked eye) but there are enough cryptographic clues to tantalize most codebreakers.
One of Many Puzzles
Many similar puzzles have been published in the past. One famous Bitcoin puzzle took three years to solve and paid out $50,000. Other puzzles have contained Viacoin, Litecoin, and Decred, each with thousands of dollars worth of crypto as the prize. That means that this Monero puzzle could tease the brains of the crypto community for years to come.
Incidentally, smaller puzzles have become an important part of several cryptocurrencies as well. The IOTA and Cardano communities regularly publish small crosswords, riddles, and other puzzles. These are much less difficult and contain relatively small prizes, but they otherwise work much like their larger counterparts do.
Although these puzzles are works of art in their own right, they aren’t really useful in any technical sense. Monero lead developer Riccardo Spagni, when asked if puzzles could provide an alternative to mining, answered “no.” Nevertheless, these puzzles are undoubtedly useful in attracting attention to crypto, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.