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Hungary’s Bitcoin fans unveil faceless statue of mysterious crypto founder Satoshi Nakamoto

A bronze statue of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of virtual currency Bitcoin
A bronze statue of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of virtual currency Bitcoin   -   Copyright  ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP
By Pascale Davies with AP

A bronze statue paying homage to the anonymous creator of Bitcoin has been unveiled in Hungary.

The statue’s creators say it is the first in the world to honour the mysterious cryptocurrency creator Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for the Bitcoin inventor or inventors, whose identity is unknown.

The sculpture was unveiled in a technology park in the Hungarian capital Budapest, which is also home to a monument of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs.

"We think of Satoshi as the founding father of the whole cryptocurrency industry," said Andras Gyorfi, a Bitcoin journalist and the initiator of the project. "He created Bitcoin, he created the blockchain technology, he's the god of our market".

The statue of Nakamoto shows a plain face, wrapped in a bronze hoodie that is marked with the Bitcoin logo. It is also heavily polished to make it reflective like a mirror in which viewers can see themselves.

Its creators, sculptors Reka Gergely and Tamas Gilly, wanted to portray a human form while staying true to the anonymity of Nakamoto.

A participant wearing a Guy Fawkes mask poses in front of the statue of Satoshi NakamotoATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP

"It was a big challenge. It is very difficult to make a portrait sculpture of a person that we don't know exactly what they look like," Gilly told The Associated Press. "I hope that through the language of sculpture I have managed to convey the basic idea of Bitcoin, that it belongs to everyone and no one at the same time".

Bitcoin was created in 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis, and aimed to circumvent traditional financial institutions by developing secure technology for peer-to-peer online transactions without using intermediaries like banks.

Who or what is Nakamoto?

Its founding white paper published that year was authored by Nakamoto - a pseudonym that could refer to a person or group of people of unknown gender, age or national origin.

The organisers of the statue project invited Nakamoto to the unveiling, Gyorfi said, in the hopes of finally learning the true identity of the Bitcoin inventor.

Hungarian sculptors and creators Reka Gergely (L) and Tamas Gilly (R) pose next to the statue of Satoshi NakamotoATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP

But though the event attracted several hundred people, no one came forward to claim responsibility for developing the cryptocurrency that has attracted tens of millions of investors and was adopted this month as legal currency in El Salvador.

Gyorfi said the statue is a token of respect to Nakamoto, and an effort to "raise awareness toward blockchain and cryptocurrencies".

Along with other Hungarian Bitcoin enthusiasts, he collected around $10,000 (€8,400) in cryptocurrency donations to finance the creation of the bust.

But that had to be converted into Hungary’s official currency forints, he said, because "unfortunately the sculptors and other service providers don't accept Bitcoin yet".