Lily Allen may have turned down the chance to become a billionaire after an unnamed promoter allegedly offered her ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Bitcoins to play a gig.
In 2014, Lily described herself as an ‘idiot’ for refusing to sing on a live stream broadcast in the virtual world of Second Life. She claimed to have been offered hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins to play the gig in 2009 – but turned it down by saying: ‘As if!’ But if she had received 200,000 Bitcoins and stashed them away, they would now be worth a massive $2,33 billion ($2,337,540,028) This windfall would have made Lily richer than Madonna, who’s worth about $515 million, and Beyonce, who’s worth about $501 million, according to Forbes.
— Lily (@lilyallen) January 5, 2014
Bitcoin was launched at the beginning of 2009 when the first coins were ‘mined’. However, the currency was effectively worthless during this year because they were only being traded by hobbyists and not being sold on an exchange. By the end of that year, there were more than a million and a half coins in circulation.
The first Bitcoin exchange opened in March 2010 and if Lily had played the gig at the time, she would have earned the equivalent of about $618. This may not have seemed to be a very impressive sum to Lily, because in 2009 she released her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You to huge commercial and critical success, selling more than one million copies.
On Twitter, some rather nasty people suggested Lily may have gotten a bit mixed up and questioned whether the payment was offered in Linden dollars – the currency of Second Life. Still, if she had accepted 200,000 Linden dollars, they would now be worth about $150,018. But assuming the grumpy naysayers are wrong: if she’d have taken a punt and kept the Bitcoins, she’d now be four times richer than Queen Elizabeth.
That’s really not fair. Someone who might have a bit of sympathy with Lily is James Howells, a Welsh IT worker who accidentally threw away a hard drive containing thousands of Bitcoins. His fortune is buried deep below thousands of tonnes of rubbish on a landfill site in Newport and is estimated to be worth $102 million.