Crypto group raises over $40 million to buy early copy of US Constitution

ConstitutionDAO is the crypto-savvy group of "internet friends" looking to buy the historic document.

Julian Dossett Writer
Julian is a staff writer at CNET. He's covered a range of topics, such as tech, travel, sports and commerce. His past work has appeared at print and online publications, including New Mexico Magazine, TV Guide, Mental Floss and NextAdvisor with TIME. On his days off, you can find him at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque watching the ballgame.
Julian Dossett
2 min read
Bill Oxford/Getty Images

A crypto group using the imagery of a treasure-hunting Nicolas Cage has been raising money to make a winning bid for an early copy of the US Constitution. The fundraising goal was originally $20 million. The group, called ConstitutionDAO, has already raised more than twice what it originally planned, and it's done so in less than a week. 

The rare copy of the Constitution is going up for auction on Nov. 18. Sotheby's, which is conducting the auction, expects the copy to sell for between $15 million and $20 million. This copy of the Constitution is an official first edition, which Sotheby's says is even rarer than a first edition of the Declaration of Independence. 

ConstitutionDAO is an organization expressly created to crowd-source enough funds to make a winning bid for the document. It's sourcing the funds using ether, a cryptocurrency that runs on the ethereum blockchain. So far, ConstitutionDAO has raised more than $40 million

A DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, is a protocol, essentially a set of automated rules that runs in a blockchain environment. In this case, the ConstitutionDAO allows individuals to buy tokens that come with "governance" concerning the fate of the constitutional copy, should the DAO be successful in its bid during Thursday's auction. 

ConstitutionDAO says governance "includes the ability to advise on (for illustrative purposes) where the Constitution should be displayed, how it should be exhibited, and the mission and values of ConstitutionDAO."

Sotheby's says the copy going up for auction is one of 13 surviving copies of the official edition of the US Constitution. The copy was purchased from Sotheby's by real estate developer S. Howard Goldman in 1988 for $165,000. Dorothy Tapper Goldman, Goldman's widow, is the current owner. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation.

Correction, Nov. 16: This story previously misstated the number of surviving copies of the official first edition of the US Constitution. There are 13 surviving copies.