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Citadel CEO Pips ConstitutionDAO to $43.2M Winning Bid for Rare Copy of U.S. Constitution

2 mins
Updated by Ryan Boltman
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In Brief

  • Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has been unveiled as the winner of the bid to own a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution
  • The CEO effectively outbid ConstitutionDAO for ownership of the document
  • ConstitutionDAO is in the process of deciding the fate of donors’ money using donors’ voting power
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Despite claiming to be the highest crowdfunded effort in 72 hours ($3M), ConstitutionDAO has failed to secure the more than 200-year-old copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has outbid ConstitutionDAO for a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution in an auction held on Nov. 18, 2021, in New York City. The Citadel CEO bid $43.2M for the treasured document. CNBC reports that ConstitutionDAO raised $47M worth of ETH but didn’t continue past Mr. Griffin’s bid since it would have left little funds over for the upkeep of the DAO. Griffin plans to loan the document to an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, called Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The chair of the museum board, Ms. Olivia Walton, is excited at the prospect of exhibiting one of the nation’s most important documents. Sotheby’s initially pegged the expected auction price to be between $15M and $20M, but the initial bid was for $30M and rose in increments of $1M.

Griffins joins an elite community of antique document collectors and sits on the board of multiple museums. Bill Gates owns a $30.8M copy of Codex Leicester, a notebook of the great inventor-artist Leonardo da Vinci. David Rubenstein owns a copy of the Magna Carta, for which he paid $21.3M.

What happens now?

ConstitutionDAO has made provision for refunding over 17000 contributors, less a transaction fee. The median donation came in at $206.26, donated through Juicebox.money. The DAO claims to have broken records for the highest amount raised in 72 hours. According to ConstitutionDAO contributor Alice Ma, some people are choosing to leave their money in their wallet, and how the funds will subsequently be managed is under consideration. This democratized decision-making aligns with a DAO’s core principle, where there is no centralized executive authority, but the members vote on decisions. People received a slice of governance influence based on the amount contributed toward the bid, denominated in $PEOPLE, a governance token created by ConstitutionDAO.

Sotheby’s only allowed ConstitutionDAO to bid due to the DAO’s linking up with a crypto-exchange and a non-profit to bid on the DAO’s behalf. The partners of ConstitutionDAO included Sam Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research and FTX US, and non-profit Endaoment. Sotheby’s recently accepted bids in Ether for the works of a street artist, Banksy. The two pieces, “Love is in the Air” and “Trolley Hunters,” sold for 1696 and 1397 ETH.

ConstitutionDAO had hoped to display the Constitution, had they won the bid, in a museum such as the Smithsonian, where the public could view it at no cost.

Griffin’s View on Crypto

Griffin has expressed bullish sentiments on a revision of Ethereum, touting its superiority and eventual eclipse of bitcoin, for which he sees no commercial use-case, citing bitcoin transaction slowness, significant energy consumption, and potential fraud utility. Ethereum 2.0 could be this desired successor, as it uses the less energy-intensive Proof-Of-Stake validation scheme.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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