Original copy of US constitution sold to unknown buyer for $43m – The Guardian

US news

Buyer beats crowdfunded cryptocurrency group to secure one of 13 surviving prints from 1787

A rare surviving copy of the US constitution has sold at auction for a record $43.2m, with an unknown buyer beating a crowdfunded bid by a cryptocurrency group.

The document, one of 13 original copies dating from 1787, sold for almost three times its lower estimate of $15m, and more than 260 times the amount it achieved when it last sold for $165,000 in 1988. The bidding at Sotheby’s in New York took eight minutes.

The identity of the new owner was not disclosed, but they were bidding against “ConstitutionDAO”, which had amassed more than £47m, or 11,600 of the cryptocurrency ether, in a few days on its online crowdfunding page.

The group, which had committed to putting the document on public display “in the hands of the people”, promised to refund its 17,437 contributors after deducting transaction fees. DAO stands for “decentralised autonomous organisation”.

The document was described by Sotheby’s as an “exceptionally rare and extraordinarily historic first printing of the United States constitution”, which was adopted by America’s founding fathers in Philadelphia in 1787. Five hundred were printed originally.

Sotheby’s had estimated the document to be worth $15m to $20m. It has now become the most expensive book, manuscript, historical document or printed text to be auctioned.

It had been bought 33 years ago by Howard Goldman, a collector of historical American books and manuscripts. The proceeds of the sale will benefit a charitable foundation in the name of his wife, Dorothy Tapper Goldman, to promote understanding of democracy, according to Sotheby’s.

David Brigham, the chief executive of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which owns another of the 13 copies of the constitution, said: “The monetary value is what the market says it is, but this auction and the interest in it reflects something much deeper – the intrinsic value of the US constitution and the fact that it remains the force that binds this nation together.

“The earliest written copies of the constitution serve as a reminder of where this country came from and where it can go, and that is priceless. What’s more, it illustrates that even in a digitised world, being able to see and hold a real document from the time of the Constitutional Convention is a powerful thing.”

In a post on Twitter, Alice Ma, one of the people behind the crowdfunded project, said: “While this wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, we still made history tonight with ConstitutionDAO. This is the largest crowdfund for a physical object that we are aware of – crypto or fiat.

“Sotheby’s has never worked with a DAO community before. We broke records for the most money crowdfunded in less than 72 hours. We have educated an entire cohort of people around the world – from museum curators and art directors to our grandmothers asking us what ether is when they read about us in the news – about the possibilities of web3.

“And on the flip side, many of you have learned about what it means to steward an asset like the US constitution across museums and collections, or watched an art auction for the first time.”












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