Citadel CEO Ken Griffin Spills Beans on Why He Outbid ConstitutionDAO

Updated by Ryan James
In Brief
  • Hedge-fund tycoon Ken Griffin reveals that he outbid ConstitutionDAO because he doubted the DAO's capability to take care of the rare document.
  • He also claims he offered the Web 3 organization the digital rights to the documents.
  • Two of Griffin's rare document specimens are part of an exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Arts in Arkansas.
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Citadel CEO Ken Griffin opens up on what prompted him to outbid ConstitutionDAO last year to obtain a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution.

The prized document marked a departure for Griffin, considering the hedge-fund billionaire traditionally collects pieces by artists Jasper Johns and Willem de Kooning.

Last year, Griffin outbid more than 17,000 members of ConstitutionDAO. This decentralized autonomous organization raised $40 million to bid for the document over a few days. At the time, Griffin expressed concern regarding the DAO’s capabilities to protect the document.

Griffin obtained the copy amidst a boom in which digital artists like Mike Winkelmann tasted success in an arena dominated by high net-worth collectors.

The hedge-fund investor began tracing the efforts of ConstitutionDAO in the days leading up to the auction. Initially, Sotheby’s estimated the highest bid at $20 million. But when ConstitutionDAO raised $40 million, it seemed like that was that.

Unfortunately for the DAO, it had revealed its maximum bid in advance. To win, Griffin made one telephone call in which he bid higher, and it was all over.

Dispute between Griffin and ConstitutionDAO

According to Griffin, he then offered the DAO the option of contributing funds to the document’s exhibition. He reportedly offered the organization a say in where the document would be displayed half of the time and promised an NFT to all who had contributed to the DAO’s fundraising efforts. Key DAO members claim that Griffin offered them the digital rights to the document for an unspecified payment from the DAO treasury. They did not remember any offer of choosing where it would be exhibited.

In the end, the DAO turned down Griffin’s offer, as its treasury funds were earmarked solely to obtain a copy of the document, which failed.

 Sotheby’s allowed the DAO to bid because of the DAO’s partnership with a cryptocurrency exchange and a non-profit that bid on its behalf.

The Bentonville, Arkansas Crystal Bridges Museum of American Arts, holding the rare document, also showcases other pieces of history, including a portrait of George Washington by artist Gilbert Stuart and a copy of what is known today as the “Bill of Rights,” also owned by Griffin. Real-estate developer Harlan Crow has also allowed his copy of the Articles of Confederation to be exhibited.

Griffin bullish on Ethereum 2.0

Griffin’s purchase of the Constitution came as a surprise at the time, considering his anti-crypto stance, a viewpoint that has since changed. In November last year, Griffin expressed his bullishness on Ethereum overtaking bitcoin, citing bitcoin’s slowness and substantial energy footprint as critical drawbacks. He said that something with a faster transaction speed and a lower energy footprint like the upcoming Ethereum 2.0 stands a good chance of being the king of cryptocurrencies.

He also said that a central-bank digital currency could disrupt the crypto sector.

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