A DAO Has Raised $45.6M to Buy the U.S. Constitution

Crypto natives have pooled $45.6 million to acquire an original copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Shutterstock cover by Janece Flippo.

Key Takeaways

  • ConstitutionDAO is attempting to win an original copy of the U.S. Constitution at auction.
  • The DAO has raised $45.6 million in ETH to participate in a live Sotheby's auction.
  • The document is one of only 500 that were issued in the first printing.

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A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) called ConstitutionDAO has raised tens of millions of dollars to bid on an original copy of the U.S. Constitution. Investors participating in the crowdfunding will receive governance tokens with voting rights, but not fractionalized ownership of the artifact.

An Ethereum DAO Attempts To Buy the U.S. Constitution

ConstitutionDAO has raised over $45 million through a crowdfunding campaign in order to bid on an original copy of the U.S. Constitution, which will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s this evening at 6:30 EST.

DAOs offer a common way in which crypto projects organize themselves in a decentralized, non-hierarchal manner. This is the first time a DAO has organized itself to bid in an auction.

DAOs are also an emerging form of corporate structure legally recognized in a few U.S states, including Wyoming.  DAOs are governed through a voting process facilitated by governance tokens, and the results are recorded on a public blockchain such as Ethereum.

One of the contributors and core developers of the ConstitutionDAO website, Miguel Piedrafita, who is from Spain, calls the project an effort to “rescue the Constitution from the hands of private collectors.”

At the time of writing, the project had raised 10,841 Ethereum (ETH) tokens worth about $45.6 million on Juicebox, a treasury management platform for Ethereum-based DAOs. The amount raised will be used to formally bid during the Sotheby’s auction that values the historical artifact between $15-20 million.

In exchange for ETH contributions before the auction, the DAO will issue governance tokens that are not associated with any ownership rights to the document.  The project’s website clarifies that the DAO is not offering fractionalized ownership of the item to those who participated in Juicebox crowdfunding. Instead, the DAO will only issue governance tokens. The team cannot fractionalize ownership of the document, as the tokens sold may then be classified as securities.

An FAQ document from ConstitutionDAO says it if the project wins the auction, the next step will be a collective vote on the final destination. Users holding governance tokens will decide where the Constitution will be housed and exhibited.

The 1787 document holds great historical value as it is one of the original 500 printed copies of the final text presented to the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, of which 13 are known to survive.  The proceeds from the auction will go to Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, a non-profit organization that currently owns the artifact.

If the team loses their auction bid, contributors will be allowed to either redeem their ETH contribution or remain in the DAO. In the future, the project aims to direct contribution towards other historic items as well.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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