Auction House Sells Rare First Printing of U.S. Constitution for $43.2 million



Sotheby’s, a famous auction house sold a rare first printing of the U.S. Constitution for $43.2 million. The auction house in New York said that it was a record price for a book or document that has been sold in an auction. The previous auction record was set almost three decades ago. In 1994, Bill Gates had bought the Codex Leicester by Leonardo da Vinci for $30.8 million at Christie’s.

According to the auction listing, the 1787 printing run had approximately 500 copies, out of which only 13 are said to have survived. Two copies are in private hands and 11 form part of institutional collections. One of the prints of the Constitution in private hands was bought by S. Howard Goldman for $165,000 in 1988.

The recent print that was sold belonged to his estate and was sold by his widow Dorothy Goldman. The funds will be used by the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation to “furthering the understanding of our democracy and how the acts of all citizens can make a difference,” according to Sotheby’s.

On Friday, Sotheby’s also announced that the buyer, hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin would loan the rare printing to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The rare printing will be exhibited in the museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Founder Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of America’s largest retail chain Walmart, opened the museum in 2011. Chairperson Olivia Walton said that they were honored to exhibit one of the most important documents in the history of the nation at their location in America’s heartland.

Griffen, who is the founder and CEO of Citadel, a multinational hedge fund, said in a statement that the U.S. Constitution was a sacred document that enshrined “the rights of every American and those who aspire to be.” He also said that he intended to ensure that the copy of the Constitution would be available for all Americans and visitors to “view and appreciate” in the nations’ “museums and other public spaces.”

Ken Griffith outbid a group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts called ConstitutionDAO. A DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization that uses blockchain-based contracts to facilitate a project that can own or manage assets. A group of 17,437 people across the web came together to make a bid for this rare print of the Constitution, by contributing a median donation of $206.26.

On Thursday night, the group tweeted that they showed the world what crypto and web3 was by onboarding thousands of people in the process. The group included museum curators and art directors who had become “excited to keep learning.” The group also said that they were the first DAO that Sotheby’s had worked with but they were sure that they wouldn’t “be the last one.”


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