On Thursday, a first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution sold at Sotheby's and was reportedly purchased by hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin — who has now offered to lend it to an Arkansas art museum for free.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the 53-year-old Ken Griffin, the founder and CEO of Chicago-based hedge-fund, Citadel, paid $43.2 million at the high profile auction held at Sotheby's.[1]

Griffin's purchase more than doubles its $20 million high estimate, setting a world auction record for any book, manuscript, historical document, or printed text, according to Sotheby’s.

A group of 17,000 crypto investors, pooled under the name @ConstitionDAO, had collected over $40 million over a 72 hour period on social media this last week in their efforts to buy the first-edition.

This first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution was last sold at auction for $165,000 in 1988 to S. Howard Goldman, the now-late husband of philanthropist Dorothy Tapper Goldman. It is the last surviving copy of the first-editions that remained in private hands.

“The U.S. Constitution is a sacred document that enshrines the rights of every American and all those who aspire to be,” Griffin said in a statement. “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 intends to loan the rare printing of America’s founding document to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which was founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton.

Earlier this year, Ken Griffin became an enemy of small-time retail investors when they accused his company, Citadel, of pressuring brokerages like Robin Hood to limit the trading of Gamestop and other meme stocks. Citadel denied meddling and dismissed the accusations as “Internet conspiracies and Twitter mobs.”

Notes & References

  1. Crow, Kelly, and Omar Abdel-Baqui. “Copy of U.S. Constitution Sells for $43.2 Million as Crypto Group Dao Is Outbid.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, November 19, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/copy-of-constitution-sells-for-43-2-million-as-crypto-group-is-outbid-11637285144?mod=article_inline. ↩︎