Rare ‘first edition’ copy of U.S. Constitution is expected to sell for up to $30 million

November 1, 2022, 2:22 PM UTC
This rare copy of the U.S. Constitution is expected to fetch bids of up to $30 million when it goes on sale Dec. 13.
Alexi Rosenfeld—Getty Images

For the second time in roughly a year, a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution is about to go up for bids.

Sotheby’s says the “extremely rare” first edition of the document is one of just 13 that are known to exist. This is one of only two that are in the hands of private collectors.  It’s expected to fetch bids of up to $30 million when it goes on sale Dec. 13.

Unlike the last time Sotheby’s held this sale, however, don’t expect a collective of crypto enthusiasts to try to buy it. On Nov. 14, 2021, a crypto collective calling itself ConstitutionDAO emerged, saying it planned to bid on the historic first printing of the Constitution via crowdfunding. The crypto community rallied to the cause and the group ultimately raised $40 million from 17,000 contributors.

That bid fell short, though, as hedge fund manager Ken Griffin topped the bids ultimately at $43.2 million.

ConstitutionDAO returned virtually all of the money to its contributors, and the founders say “the project has run its course.”

That’s not to say another DAO couldn’t form, but cryptocurrencies aren’t what they were last November. Bitcoin, alone, is down nearly 70%. So, it would be considerably harder for any group to raise a competitive bid.

This copy of the Constitution has been in the hands of the same family since 1894—and hasn’t been seen by the public since 1987, when it was on display at Stanford University. Last year’s sale of the so-called Goldman Constitution was 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 went on sale.

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