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Thursday, November 18, 2023

Crypto investors pool money to buy a copy of the Constitution

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This should make for a good addition to the “National Treasure” franchise.

A massive group of investors are pooling millions of dollars of cryptocurrency in an effort to buy a rare, first-edition copy of the US Constitution, which will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s on Thursday.

The auction house expects the rare print, one of just 13 surviving official copies of the historic document, to sell for somewhere in the ballpark of $15 million to $20 million.

A group of crypto investors calling themselves ConstitutionDAO, which stands for a decentralized autonomous organization, has raised more than $13.6 million for the auction, according to a website the group set up.

The group raised more than $3 million between 11:30 a.m. ET alone and 1:20 p.m., according to the site, and all of the funds are being held in ether, the native currency of the popular Ethereum blockchain.

“We’re buying the constitution and it will be governed by the people,” the site says.

Illustration of James Madison with cryptocurrency.
James Madison, meet the new world: A group of crypto investors is trying to put together money to buy a copy of the US Constitution.

The rare copy of the Constitution was printed for delegates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, according to Sotherby’s. It’s one of just two copies that’s still owned by private collectors, ConstitutionDAO’s site says.

If ConstitutionDAO wins the auction for it, contributors to the crypto fund would not actually receive a fraction of ownership of the text.

Instead, they would get a governance token that lets them vote on where the Constitution goes, how it’s displayed and other matters, the organization said.

But the group says on its site that it’s seeking “an esteemed partner to publicly display the Constitution.”

“The eventual home must have the expertise to properly house, store, and maintain the artifact,” the group says on its site. “Additionally, the community has expressed strong preferences for institutions that are free to the public and willing to cover the costs associated with housing the document.”

The "Official Edition" of the United States Constitution and the First Printing of the Final Text of the Constitution | We, the People of the United States
The copy of the Constitution is expected to sell for $15 million to $20 million.
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The proceeds from the auction will be given to a charity that has been chosen by the current owner, Dorothy Tapper Goldman, according to Sotheby’s.

The so-called core contributors to the fund are all publicly named on the group’s website, as well as all of the custodians of the funds that have already been raised.

No one associated with the project is taking any compensation for organizing or promoting the effort, the group says, though that could change after the auction if the overall DAO community votes in favor of compensating core members.

The group says that it’s fitting for a DAO, an increasingly popular online way of organizing communities through blockchain technology, to purchase a copy of the Constitution.

“Decentralization and cryptocurrency (web3) have created structures that allow people to self-govern with unparalleled levels of autonomy and freedom,” the group said.

“It’s fitting that we use this technology to honor and protect the greatest historical tool for human governance: the U.S. Constitution.”

Representatives for Sotheby’s did not return The Post’s request for comment.

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