Crypto Buyers Lose Out In $43.2 Million Sale Of Uncommon Copy Of U.S. Structure
Sotheby’s had originally estimated that the copy of the Constitution would fetch $ 15 million to $ 20 million … [+]
This story has been updated to reflect the full price the Constitution was sold for after all auction fees.
A rare copy of the U.S. Constitution sold for $ 43.2 million on Sotheby’s Thursday, and while the winner remains unknown, the internet collective called Constitution DAO, which made an upstart offer and publicly expressed its interest, has confirmed that it wasn’t the buyer.
The constitution sold Thursday is one of 13 remaining copies of a print made for the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and one of only two privately owned copies. Constitution DAO had hoped to put it in a museum or other public house; it said that if it were lost, it would return the money it raised.
[Read More: What is a DAO—and why does one want to buy the Constitution?]
The previous owner of the constitution, Dorothy Goldman, plans to donate the proceeds of the sale to her foundation, which supports the study of constitutional law. She should be satisfied: the deal represents a return of 24,700% on the $ 165,000 her husband, real estate developer S. Howard Goldman, paid for the constitution in 1988.
Constitution DAO has crowdfunded its offering and attracted thousands of individual donors who have contributed in ether, a popular cryptocurrency. The group’s organizers first met a week ago and began fundraising and running a word of mouth campaign on Twitter and other social media on Sunday. (Most of the original organizers of the Constitutional DAO have revealed themselves – mostly a group of young people working in technology and crypto – but the majority of its members remain anonymous.) They set a goal of $ 20 million, the the upper end of what Sotheby’s had originally estimated the document could fetch. By Tuesday it had raised $ 5 million. A day later, over $ 40 million. It’s not clear how much the group ultimately raised or why they couldn’t beat the winning bid.
“I definitely thought we were going to hit $ 20 million, but I didn’t expect it to accelerate quickly,” said Yossi Hasson, CEO of Metaversal, a New York-based crypto investment firm that has $ 1 million in the Constitution DAO has invested. “These crypto networks enable global coordination of people so quickly.”
Constitution DAO is a so-called Decentralized Autonomous Organization or DAO, an organization that records their membership using blockchain ledger technology and lets these members vote on how the DAO should work. There are no boardrooms or club lounges: DAOs are organized and promoted through chat apps like Discord and social media platforms like Twitter. And they’re an obvious pairing with cryptocurrencies, as both focus on shaking up traditional centers of power.
DAOs are a new age experiment in governance, and the foundation of the Constitution DAO liked the chance to buy an artifact that was linked to the beginning of the most significant governance experiment of the past 300 years.
“What we are seeing here are people using a DAO to convey an emotional connection to their country’s history. How cool is that? “Says Robbie Heeger, CEO of Endaoment, a crypto investor advisory firm. Endaoment helped the DAO understand and execute the fine print details of Sotheby’s sale, including the fact that it was in US dollars and not should have paid in ether. “‘DAO’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ can really seem like foreign words. We demystify them through an accessible lens: the purchase of a rare document.”
DAO enthusiasts hope to gain popularity in the next few years – just like cryptocurrencies in the mid to late 2010s. Because of its co-op nature, a DAO can resemble a disorganized group text messaging thread, and suffered some of the earliest glitches, including a high-profile hack in 2016.
Recently, another such group, PleasrDAO, bought another high profile item: the one-of-a-kind Wu Tang digital album, which was originally purchased by disgraced pharmaceutical financer Martin Shkreli. PleasrDAO acquired it last month for $ 4 million.