* Newsweek report triggers media rush to Nakamoto's house
* Nakamoto evades scrum, spirited away by the AP
* Tells AP he was misunderstood
* Bitcoin Foundation says no evidence this man is Bitcoin
By Aron Ranen and Brandon Lowrey
TEMPLE CITY, Calif., March 6 A Japanese American
man thought to be the reclusive multi-millionaire father of
Bitcoin emerged from a modest Southern California home and
denied involvement with the digital currency before leading
reporters on a freeway car chase to the local headquarters of
the Associated Press.
Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin
traders, practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared
to lose his anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a
story that said he lived in Temple City, California, just east
of Los Angeles.
Newsweek included a photograph and described a short
interview, in which Nakamoto said he was no longer associated
with Bitcoin and that it had been turned over to other people.
The magazine concluded that the man was the same Nakamoto who
Dozens of reporters, including a sprinkling of Japanese
media, encircled and camped outside the man's two-story house on
Thursday morning, accosting the mailman and repeatedly ringing
the doorbell, to no avail. Police cruisers drove by several
times but did not stop.
Several times, someone pulled back the drapes on an upstairs
In the afternoon, the silver-haired, bespectacled Nakamoto
stepped outside, dressed in a gray sport coat and green striped
shirt, with a pen tucked in his shirt pocket. He was mobbed by
reporters and told them he was looking for someone who
understood Japanese to buy him a free lunch.
Newsweek estimates his wealth at $400 million.
"I'm not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute, I want my free
lunch first. I'm going with this guy," Nakamoto said, pointing
at a reporter from AP. "I'm not in Bitcoin, I don't know
anything about it," he said again while walking down the street
with several cameras at his heels.
He and the AP reporter made their way to a nearby sushi
restaurant with media in tow, before leaving and heading
downtown. Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno followed the
pair and described the chase in a running stream of tweets.
Eventually, the pair dashed into the Associated Press offices in
downtown Los Angeles.
In a later AP interview, Nakamoto said he was misunderstood
in a key portion of the Newsweek story, where he tells the
reporter on his doorstep, "I am no longer involved in that and I
cannot discuss it."
Asked by the AP if he had said that, Nakamoto said, "No."
"I'm saying I'm no longer in engineering. That's it," he
told the AP. "And even if I was, when we get hired, you have to
sign this document, contract saying you will not reveal anything
we divulge during and after employment. So that's what I
"It sounded like I was involved before with Bitcoin and
looked like I'm not involved now. That's not what I meant. I
want to clarify that," the AP reported him as saying.
The Bitcoin Foundation, an advocacy group promoting the
adoption of the digital currency, said "... We have seen zero
conclusive evidence that the identified person is the designer
"Those closest to the Bitcoin project, the informal team
of core developers, have always been unaware of Nakamoto's true
identity, as Nakamoto communicated purely through electronic
means," it said in a post on its website.
Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman told the AP that she
stood by her story. "I stand completely by my exchange with Mr.
Nakamoto. There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of
our conversation - and his acknowledgment of his involvement in
"FOCUSED AND ECLECTIC"
Fans see Bitcoin as a digital-world currency beyond
government interference, while critics, whose ranks swelled with
the recent bankruptcy filing by major bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox,
see a risky investment whose anonymity aids drug
dealers and other criminals.
Nakamoto kept a low profile in part to avoid the attention
of authorities, Newsweek said. On Thursday, the office of
Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of
Financial Services, was keen on speaking with him, a source
familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network
independent of central control. Its value soared last year, and
the total worth of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.
In the Newsweek article, Nakamoto was credited by Bitcoin's
chief scientist, Gavin Andresen, in working out the first codes
behind the currency.
A man of few words who refused to discuss anything beyond
the currency or even communicate outside of email, Nakamoto was
described by his brother in the Newsweek article as "fickle and
has very weird hobbies," including a penchant for model trains.
Japanese-born Nakamoto displayed an unusual aptitude for
math as a child. He immigrated with his mother to California in
1959. He worked for defense and electronics company Hughes
Aircraft, but never discussed work because much of it was
classified, according to Newsweek interviews with several
friends and relatives.
"He's very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking.
Smart, intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You
name it, he can do it," Newsweek quoted Arthur Nakamoto, his
younger brother, as saying.