Crypto collective raises $40 million to buy rare copy of U.S. Constitution

It started as something of a joke. A crypto collective, calling itself ConstitutionDAO, popped up on Nov. 14 to announce it would be bidding on a Sotheby’s auction for a historic first printing of the U.S. Constitution, and that it planned to raise the money to do so via crowdfunding.

But in a world where meme stocks and Dogecoin have soared, the crypto community rallied to the cause. By Monday, the group had raised $3 million. By mid-day Thursday, with less than seven hours left before the auction, the fund had topped $40 million.

That makes the collective a likely shoo-in to win the auction. The document, initially, was estimated to fetch between $15 million and $20 million by Sotheby’s. This is the first time in 33 years that one of the 13 copies of the Official Edition of the Constitution, surviving from a printing of 500 issued for submission to the Continental Congress, will be put up for auction.

Exactly how much the group has raised is still something of a mystery. The number isn’t being disclosed until after the project, according to the core team that’s running it.

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.

The group says anyone who contributes to the fund will share ownership of the Constitution and have a vote in the decision about what to do with it. That could range from donating it to the Smithsonian Institution to creating NFT artwork from the document. ConstitutionDAO says that, should it win the auction, it hopes to find an organization to partner with that will publicly and freely display it to visitors.

If they lose, contributors will get their money back, minus unspecified fees. The auction is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 18.

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