The two were close friends throughout their childhood, but an acrimonious dispute over the origins of Bitcoin – fuelled by allegations of drug-taking and sexual rivalry – has driven a wedge between them.
While the crypto world is still trying to grasp the implications of recent claims concerning Satoshi Nakamoto, another battle is raging in the courts over the prize to become publicly accepted as Bitcoin’s creator. Edward Bär and Christopher Robin, once inseparable friends who lived and worked together, have become mired in a seemingly intractable legal battle concerning the origins of the world’s foremost cryptocurrency.
Dr Robin, now a well-known but controversial tech entrepreneur, claims that he created Bitcoin with Professor Bär shortly after the two left university, where they studied on the same higher mathematics course.
‘By claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, Bär has overstepped the mark once too often,’ commented Dr Robin in a rare public statement outside the London courthouse where the trial is being heard. ‘He has taken credit for my ideas too many times in the past, but claiming to be Bitcoin’s creator is beyond the pale.’ Asked why he does not simply prove it with a signed message using the keys from the Genesis block, Robin is clear: ‘This is about the law, not maths. It’s a matter of intellectual property, not sums. You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. This is happening in court and “Pooh” as his few friends know him, is going down.’
Speculation about the acrimonious feud between the two friends have been fuelled by reports from sources close to the pair that their argument is personal as well as professional. ‘It started when they were living together in the same student flat,’ commented Ms Kinga Roux, who has known them both since childhood. ‘There was a lot of drugs and partying, and on at least one occasion Bär slept with Robin’s girlfriend. Robin was livid but did nothing at the time because they were working together on an early version of what would ultimately become Bitcoin. He needed Bär’s help.’
Professor Bär, for his part, claims that he was far more than the ‘helper’ to Robin: he was the chief architect of the project. He was the one who wrote the white paper and the original Bitcoin code, he maintains, while pursuing a successful career in academia. Robin was no more than an editor and occasional consultant, according to his version. ‘Robin stole the ideas for Bitcoin from me, pure and simple – #IamSatoshi’, he wrote in a recent tweet. ‘I have the private keys to the Genesis block, I could prove it whenever I wanted,’ he explained in a separate blog post. ‘But the world does not need cryptographic proof of the identity of Satoshi. It needs legally-enforced recognition. That’s all that matters.’
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