A detail of a first printing of the United States Constitution is displayed at Sotheby’s auction house during a press preview on Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. The rare copy has sold for a record $43.2 million at Sotheby’s to an anonymous buyer who outbid a group of cryptocurrency investors.
A rare first printing of the U.S. Constitution has sold at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York for $43.2 million, a record price for a document or book sold at auction.
An Unprecedented crowd-funded attempt to buy an extremely rare copy of the U.S. Constitution fell just short on Thursday night, when a group of more than 17,000 people who had pooled their money were outbid in an auction for the historical document. This group of people called ConstitutionDAO was locked in an “eight-minute bidding battle on the telephones” with at the time an unidentified rival.
The selling price of $43.2 million for this rare constitution copy sets a new record for the most ever paid for a book, historical document or printed text, according to Sotheby’s, which handled the sale. The winning bid more than doubled the top estimate of $20 million the Constitution had been expected to garner.
The document that sold Thursday night was printed in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, the last day of the Constitutional Convention that was presided over by George Washington and was attended by delegates such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.
Only 500 copies of the Constitution were created in that first printing; the one sold Thursday night is one of the last 13 surviving copies. Only two copies are known to exist outside of institutional collections.
The purchaser of the document was Citadel CEO and billionaire hedge fund executive Kenneth Griffin, who outbid the group of cryptocurrency investors.
“The U.S. Constitution is a sacred document that enshrines the rights of every American and all of those who aspire to be, Griffin said in a statement released by Sotheby’s. “That is why I intend to ensure that this copy of our Constitution will be available for All Americans and visitors to view and appreciate in our museums and other public spaces.”
Griffin said he will loan the document to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it will be on display to the public for free.
The previous auction record for a book or manuscript was set in 1994 when Bill Gates purchased the Codex Leicester by Leonardo da Vinci at Christie’s for $30.8 million.