Hedge-fund billionaire revealed to have outbid cryptocurrency group for rare copy of US constitution

By Helen Elfer
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin has revealed he was the winner of a first-edition copy of the US constitution at a Sotheby’s auction.

The founder of Citadel outbid a large group of cryptocurrency investors, ConstitutionDAO, which had crowdfunded more than $40 million earlier in the week in a highly publicized effort to win the document.

Mr Griffin paid $43.2 million for the constitution, which he says he intends to lend it to a free Arkansas art museum.

Sotheby’s said the price fetched at the auction on Thursday was a record for a historical document, having previously estimated it be worth $15m to $20m.

The document is the last surviving first edition in private hands. Published in 1787, there are 13 known copies to have survived from a run of 500 originally printed after the text was settled at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

ConstitutionDAO had said it planned “to put the constitution in the hands of the people” if it had won. It released a statement on Twitter after the auction expressing disappointment that it had not won the bid, but celebrating the fact it had broken records for the most amount of money crowdfunded in less than 72 hours, and educated many about both art and “web3.”

It added that everyone who donated to the group will now have their money returned.

The purchase was not the first record-breaker for Mr Griffin, who paid $80 million in 2016 for Jasper Johns’s 1959 False Start which at the time was the most expensive sale for any work by a living artist.

Last year, Mr Griffin paid $100 million for wall-sized 1982 artwork Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which he later lent to the Art Institute of Chicago.

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