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Crypto collective loses bid to buy rare copy of U.S. Constitution

November 19, 2021, 1:23 AM UTC

A cryptocurrency collective that made a big media splash by announcing plans to buy one of 13 surviving copies of the U.S. Constitution was ultimately outbid on Thursday, losing out on a piece of history, but putting a new crypto-crowdfunding trend on the map.

ConstitutionDAO announced earlier this week its intension to bid on the Constitution, which Sotheby’s estimated would fetch $15 million to $20 million. The auction’s eventual winner, who was unidentified, bid $41 million, beating ConstitutionDAO’s final bid of $40 million.

“While this wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, we still made history tonight with ConstitutionDAO,” the group said in a statement. “This is the largest crowdfund for a physical object that we are aware of—crypto or fiat.”

ConstitutionDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, a group of developers and cryptocurrency enthusiasts who use blockchain technology to organize. ConstitutionDAO had asked participants to pitch in Ethereum cryptocurrency, which would be stored in a Gnosis Safe digital wallet before being transferred to Sotheby’s if the bid was successful.

ConstitutionDAO had promised to refund the group’s funds if its bid failed.

“It’s fitting that we use this technology to honor and protect the greatest historical tool for human governance: the U.S. Constitution,” ConstitutionDAO said on its website before the auction. “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.”

Despite contributing money to buying the Constitution, ConstitutionDAO’s individual members would not have owned the document itself. Instead, participants would have received a so-called governance token that let them give advice about where the document should be displayed and how.

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