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A crypto group has raised nearly $3 million in Ether to bid on a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution

November 15, 2021, 11:29 AM UTC

On Thursday, auction house Sotheby’s will host an auction for a historic first printing of the U.S. Constitution. A crypto group called ConstitutionDAO claims it wants to be the highest bidder.

ConstitutionDAO has raised nearly $3 million, or 609 Ether coin, according to its wallet, since launching a crowdfunding platform on Sunday night to purchase the document, which is one of 13 first-run copies of the Constitution that has survived from an original circulation of 500. The document was distributed to delegates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where the Constitution was ratified, and is one of two copies that is not held by an institutional collection, like a museum, according to Sotheby’s.

ConstitutionDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), a type of group that has become increasingly popular in cryptocurrency circles for promising shared management of organizational assets and a democratized voting structure that dictates how it will operate. In October, a DAO called PleasrDAO purchased a Wu-Tang Clan album for $4 million. ConstitutionDAO says it wants to buy the document “to put The Constitution in the hands of The People,” according to its website.

ConstitutionDAO’s press contact did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

The ConstitutionDAO pledges that if it wins the auction, it will share ownership of the Constitution among everyone who contributed funds to the project and make collective decisions about what to do with it; potential plans include making NFT artwork from the document and donating it to the Smithsonian Institution.

“It’s fitting that we use this technology to honor and protect the greatest historical tool for human governance: the U.S. Constitution,” ConstitutionDAO writes on its website. “We believe that The U.S. Constitution is a shared good and should be shared and displayed in public spaces—by the people whose governance and freedom it was created to protect.”

After raising nearly $3 million hours after it launched on Sunday night, the group seems on pace to raise the $15 million to $20 million that Sotheby’s estimates the document will cost at auction.

The copy of the constitution is currently owned by Dorothy Goldman, the widow of New York real estate developer Howard Goldman, who bought the copy for $165,000 in 1988. Goldman says the proceeds from the auction will go to the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, which builds educational programs for students with a focus on advancing the principles laid out in America’s founding documents.

ConstitutionDAO, which is raising funds via Juicebox, a platform that supports DAO projects, says that everyone who donates funds to the project will receive refunds should someone else outbid the group. The group warns that people should not make donations they can’t afford to lose. The group says there is a remote possibility that the group’s wallet will be hacked or that “trusted signers,” meaning people in charge of the funds, will lose password keys to the wallet or steal the funds.

The group also launched its own token, called $PEOPLE, that will be allocated to contributors based on the size of their donations should ConstitutionDAO win the auction. The organization says that the $PEOPLE token will be used in the community to make decisions about what to do with the document. The more $PEOPLE owned, the more power the holder has in deciding the fate of the Constitution.

On messaging platform Discord, the ConstitutionDAO community is actively engaged in creating memes to promote the project, brainstorming how to get actor Nicolas Cage (star of the National Treasure film about stealing the Constitution) involved in the project, discussing legal questions related to making a bid, and answering questions about how the organization operates. One channel called “gm” is dedicated to group members wishing one another good morning.

“gm (good morning) from a canadian who is looking forward to buying your democracy,” one user joked.

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