A rare first edition copy of the constitution sold for $43.2 million at auction this week. But the real story is who was outbid for the document – a group called ConsitutionDAO, who pooled together more than $40 million to place a bid. DAO is crypto parlance for decentralized autonomous organization.

ConstitutionDAO is a “decentralized autonomous organization formed to put the Constitution into the hands of the people,” its website says. 

They were outbid at the last minute by “an anonymous phone bidder” who won the auction for the historical document, which is only 1 of 13 of its kind, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The document is now “the priciest six pages in auction history, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’s $30.8 million copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific notebook known as the Codex Leicester,” the Journal reported.

While the winner remains anonymous, the runner up was revealed to be a collective of more than 17,000 people who donated for a chance to win the artifact.

Anisha Sunkerneni of San Francisco, who helped organize the bid on behalf of ConstitutionDAO, said: “What we tried to do was make the Constitution more accessible to the public. Although we might have not completely accomplished doing just that, I think we’ve raised enough awareness to illustrate that a DAO is another option.”

The DAO had 17,437 participants with a median donation size of $206.26.

“You are receiving a governance token, not fractionalized ownership. Governance includes the ability to advise on (for illustrative purposes) where the Constitution should be displayed, how it should be exhibited, and the mission and values of ConstitutionDAO,” its website said leading up to the auction.

“ConstitutionDAO is taking donations and donors are receiving governance tokens with no expectation of profit. These donations are not tax deductible at this point in time.”

This copy, from 1787, is one of only two not held in institutional collections, the report says. 

People at the time it was made weren’t sure if it would become a souvenir worth holding onto, said Kenneth Rendell, a Boston dealer who specializes in historic documents. 

He told the WSJ: “People knew they should probably save the Declaration, but it took a while before this constitutional framework affected ordinary people.”

“Of course now everyone is running to the Constitution for protection and all our biggest issues feel like constitutional questions.”



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