Was Len Sassaman Satoshi Nakamoto?

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  • Len Sassaman is a name indelibly associated with Bitcoin, and a recent article claims he could be the pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto
  • Sassaman was a talented cryptographer who has many links to the core Bitcoin developers
  • Nakamoto’s last communication was an email send just two months before Sassaman committed suicide

There are plenty of Satoshi Nakamoto candidates out there, some viable, some not so. One name that has always been associated with the cypherpunk movement but rarely with the identity of the Bitcoin creator himself, is Len Sassaman. However, a recent Medium article has drawn parallels between the cryptographer, who died in 2011, and Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator. But how legitimate are the claims?

Important to Discuss “Who Actually Built Bitcoin”

The author of the Medium piece linking Satoshi Nakamoto, who goes by the name leung, starts by noting that when Sassaman tragically took his life at the age of 31 following a “long battle with depression and functional neurological disorders”, it was two months after Satoshi’s final communication, an email to Gavin Adresen in April 2011 in which he said:

I’ve moved on to other things and probably won’t be around in the future.

The Bitcoin creator then “disappeared without explanation”, leaving, among other things, a $64 billion bitcoin fortune, which remains untouched to this day. Leung explains that while he “hesitate(s) to speculate about Satoshi’s identity”, the recent actions of Craig Wright in trying to bully his way into being accepted as Satoshi Nakamoto have made it important to “revisit the topic and recenter the discussion around the Cypherpunks who actually built Bitcoin.”

The Evidence

Among the evidence, Leung says that he notes “many of the same traits” as Nakamoto and notes several strong links to Bitcoin’s early years, including:

  • Sassaman was on the infamous cypherpunk mailing list where the Bitcoin whitepaper was first posted
  • He worked alongside other prominent Bitcoin developers such as Hal Finney and Adam Back when working on remailer technology (called the “ground floor” of the digital cash concept)
  • He studied under David Chaum at the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography group (COSIC)
  • Satoshi’s code contributions and online comments tailed off and ramped up in line with when Sassaman would have been busy or otherwise with his studies

Leung points to other factors that he believes link Sassaman to Satoshi Nakamoto, including the fact that Satoshi walked away from Bitcoin two months before Sassaman committed suicide on July 3, 2011. No one has heard from Nakamoto in any sense ever since.

Sassaman Identity May Explain Wright’s Confidence

If Sassaman were Nakamoto, it may answer the question we posed some weeks ago as to why Craig Wright feels he can act with impunity in pretending to be the Bitcoin creator. He has to know that the real Satoshi Nakamoto is not coming back, or at least be supremely confident in the fact, because otherwise he runs the risk of the real Satoshi coming out of retirement and exposing him.

This leads to the suggestion that Wright knows Satoshi won’t come back because he has already passed away – meaning the only two candidates are Haly Finney and Len Sassaman. Of course we will never know for sure, but the evidence presented by Leung seems to suggest that we can at least consider adding Len Sassaman to the Satoshi Nakamoto candidate list.