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This article was published on December 1, 2017


Man swipes domains from BT in 2000; flogs them for a fortune in Bitcoin in 2017

Man swipes domains from BT in 2000; flogs them for a fortune in Bitcoin in 2017
Matthew Hughes
Story by

Matthew Hughes

Former TNW Reporter

Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.

Seventeen years ago, the UK’s then-biggest telecommunications company, BT, opened a pioneering new research incubator in Ipswitch, called Adastral Park.

And… er… forgot to purchase the domain names. It’s a schoolboy error, and as a prank, a BT contractor called Ric Hayman bought them for the grand total of £20 (at the time, that was roughly $28). Predictably, the humorless suits at BT didn’t particularly appreciate his joke, and Hayman quickly found himself out on his arse, without a job.

Hayman’s having the last laugh though, as the bundle of domains are now on sale for a cool ten Bitcoins. At the time of writing, a Bitcoin is worth £7,525 (an astonishing $10,171.02), meaning that if BT wants their domains back, they’ll have to pony up £75,250 (or $101,710.25).

The Whois for the domains are still linked to Hayman, suggesting he’s kept hold of them all these years.  However, it’s not clear he’ll find a buyer.

BT purchased an alternative domain — atadastral.co.uk — in 2000, which has been the online home of Adastral Park ever since. Moreover, BT is financially struggling. As pointed out by The Register’s Rebbecca Hill, it just reported a significant drop in revenue.

We’ve emailed Adastral Park and the email attached to the Adastral Park domain sale. If we hear back, we’ll update this post.