Cryptocurrency Group offers first edition of Constitution

When rare copies of historical documents go up for auction, it is often wealthy businessmen who submit the winning bids.

But at an auction scheduled for Thursday, a ragtag group of cryptocurrency fans who found each other on social media may be the ones walking away with a first edition of the U.S. Constitution.

Driven by cryptocurrency memes and inspired by a 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, the group, which calls itself ConstitutionDAO, reported raising more than $ 32 million from thousands of mostly anonymous donors in less than a week’s online organization.

It is a project that demonstrates the power of internet crowd-sourcing and the spread of cryptocurrency further into mainstream culture. On Tuesday, the stadium where the Los Angeles Lakers play announced that Singapore-based Crypto.com had purchased the naming rights to what had become known as the Staples Center.

The pot of cryptocurrency now puts ConstitutionDAO in a potentially competitive position to bid on one of the fundamental documents of American democracy.

“Crypto will allow the US Constitution to fulfill its original mission! Freedom!” wrote a person who contributed $ 400 worth of cryptocurrency ethereum to the case on Wednesday. (The fact that transactions are publicly visible is a crucial feature of cryptocurrency.)

Another Twitter user called the effort a “financial flashmob.”

The copy of the constitution, printed in 1787 when the framers wrote the document, will go up for auction Thursday at Sotheby’s. It is one of 13 copies believed to be back from the 500 copies that were printed, and it is the last that has been in the hands of an individual collector.

The document had been expected to bring in as much as $ 20 million a few days ago, but the crypto fund has added a layer of uncertainty. ConstitutionDAO has said that $ 40 million would give it a “great chance of winning.”

The auction is scheduled for at. 18.30 in New York.

“DAO” in ConstitutionDAO stands for “decentralized autonomous organization”, a label for a new generation of bottom-up, internet-based groups using a transparent digital ledger known as blockchain. Some people refer to this vision of a decentralized Internet as Web 3.0 or Web3.

“What we’re trying now is the big decentralized blockchain experiment,” said Graham Novak, an associate at a venture capital firm in Atlanta and one of 30 people listed as core contributors to the group.

Novak, who spoke to a group of Twitter users on Wednesday in an audio broadcast, said the group has good intentions – primarily the idea that anyone is capable of getting a piece of the historical document.

“Who else is going to buy this? A super rich person who just puts it in a collection in their basement?” he asked.

This copy of the Constitution was last for sale in 1988 when real estate developer S. Howard Goldman bought it at auction. He and his wife showed it publicly over the years.

Other wealthy businessmen, from private equity magnate David Rubenstein to a co-founder of the early search engine Magellan, have bought copies of rare documents, such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.

Technically, contributors to ConstitutionDAO would not own part of the document. Instead, they would each be given a “governance token” that would allow them to advise on topics such as where the constitution should be displayed if they win the auction.

If ConstitutionDAO wins the auction, it plans to show the Constitution publicly through a “respected partner”, ideally an institution that is free to the public and willing to cover the associated costs, according to the group’s website.

“None of the core contributors want to physically change the Constitution in any way and are committed to its safety and security,” the group said in a frequently asked question.

The organization has taken place on apps such as Twitter, the chat platform Discord, Google Docs and other apps that have been used to recruit others and request contributions.

The organizers have asked not only for money, but also for memes to generate interest – especially all memes related to “National Treasure”, the 2004 film in which Nicolas Cage plays a man trying to steal a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

And the organizers said that if they win, they will put their plan to show the Constitution to a vote among all contributors – a demonstration of democracy designed to repeat the document itself.

“We knew we wanted to involve people who were everywhere,” said another of the core contributors, Anisha Sunkerneni, a San Francisco-based investor. “We wanted everyone who wanted to be a part of this to be able to do it.”

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