Thursday night’s failed auction for a rare physical copy of the U.S. Constitution left crypto Twitter in disarray after ConstitutionDAO lost to an initially mysterious buyer for $43.2 million, the highest amount that any document has ever sold for at auction.
Well, we now know who that buyer is: Kenneth Griffin, the hedge fund billionaire and founder of Citadel, the very same firm that found itself in the crosshairs of internet theories following Robinhood’s temporary halt on memestocks like GameStop just as the crowd of retail investors was causing major pain to institutional investors who shorted the stock. Citadel helped to bail out one such short seller. Robinhood, which offers fee-free investing to users, also sells retail traders’ order flow to Citadel Securities, a separately-run sister entity to Citadel.
The revelation is a bit of salt in the wound of ConstitutionDAO’s failure. The campaign crowdfunded $40 million from thousands of strangers online, and had pretensions of democracy like people voting on what to do with the Constitution once it was purchased. The attempt itself had a populist, GameStop-y bent, as contributors styled it as a revolt against billionaire elites… like Kenneth Griffin, who is known to splash out on expensive art.
It’s also worth noting that the auction was essentially the equivalent of a “The Price Is Right” shitheel guessing $1 more than the last person. As observers noted on Friday, it’s generally not a good idea to enter an auction against people who may or may not have a lot more money than you by loudly advertising the exact upper limit of what you’re willing to pay. The document was valued at $15-25 million before the auction, and sold to Griffin for way over that amount, and only a hair more than what the DAO very publicly raised.
“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, Barron’s reported. “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.” The document is now set to be displayed at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Akansas.
As for what happens now with the ConstitutionDAO, nobody seems to really know. The group promised information on refunds on Friday, but as of the time of writing no information has been publicly released. There is also the possibility that people will want the DAO to continue, and the possibility of purchasing other historical items was on the table even before the Constitution auction.
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