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ConstitutionDAO Fails to Win Bid for Copy of the U.S. Constitution

2 mins
Updated by Leila Stein
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In Brief

  • ConstitutionDAO raised $47 million to buy one of two copies of the U.S. Constitution.
  • The bid failed as they did not have enough in reserves to cover long-term care of the document.
  • The DAO claims this to be the largest crowdfund for a physical object in history.
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A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) tried to buy one of two copies of the United States constitution that went up for auction by Sotheby’s. The community lost out despite raising $47 million.

The DAO aimed to “put the constitution in the hands of the people.” As a result of the structure of a DAO, the idea was that control of this acquired item would then be decentralized.

However, like many other projects in the crypto world, a big part of the interest stems from the idea that it would be funny to pull this kind of stunt off. This is even apparent in the DAO’s Twitter profile picture. It shows Nick Cage with the U.S. Constitution in the film National Treasure.

Whatever the reasoning, this was still a first for the crypto world and Sotheby’s. The auction house has been proactive in working with non-fungible token (NFT) artists already. It also accepts cryptocurrency. However, this was its first time working with a DAO.

Outbid in the long run

The artwork ultimately sold for $43.3 million. While this appears to be within reach based on the DAO’s funds, it says it failed because its funds did not cover the reserve required to maintain and care for the document.

Overall, 17,437 people contributed a median donation of $206.26 towards this ambitious goal. The DAO pointed out specifically that many of the wallets where the donations originated were initialized for the first time. Therefore indicating that this may be the first contribution in crypto by some who participated.

It intended to launch a governance token after a successful bid. This would have been used to vote on all aspects related to the physical constitution.

According to the DAO, this was the largest crowdfunding initiative for a physical object ever undertaken. However, it assures that they will be refunded the donation, minus gas fees.

“We showed the world what crypto and web3 [can do], onboarding thousands of people in the process, including museum curators and art directors who are now excited to keep learning,” the team said in a tweet.

DAOs rise in popularity

The incredible response to ConstitutionDAO indicates the overall interest these kinds of organizations are receiving at the moment in the crypto world.

However, most aren’t crowdfunding for one very specific, physical object. Many DAOs are forming around already existing communities in the crypto world.

These communities take ideas that have been around for some time, such as crowdfunding, collective decision making, and put them on the blockchain through the use of governance tokens. It also removes the human aspect through self-executing smart contracts.

These ambitious projects are not limited to communities on the internet either. They are seen as a possible future of work and governance of communities.

Recently, Vitalik Buterin bought “citizenship” in the form of an NFT from CityDAO. This organization aims to build a functional city where citizens directly participate in how the city is run.

Buterin sees DAOs as a way to increase participation by citizens in the management of their physical and digital space without the need for elected leaders.

What do you think about DAOs? Are we looking at the future of companies, communities, and work? Write to us and tell us!

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Leila Stein
After working in news and lifestyle journalism, Leila decided to bring her interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain to her day job. She now runs the Features and Opinions desk at BeinCrypto which fits perfectly with her enthusiasm for crypto's social and political impact.