A page of the first printing of the United States Constitution is displayed at the offices of Sotheby’s auction house in New York on September 17, 2021.
Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images
Sotheby’s is auctioning off an extremely rare and historic first-edition printing of the U.S. Constitution, and crypto investors are pooling millions of dollars worth of ether to buy it.
An organization known as ConstitutionDAO is raising the money using a digital crypto wallet with the aim of crowdsourcing enough funds to make the winning bid when the document hits the auction block on Thursday night.
The foundational text is valued at $15 million to $20 million. Since launching five days ago, the group has thus far raised 967 ether, or $4.3 million.
The exercise offers some of the first practical insight into how crypto infrastructure can be used to facilitate fractional ownership of a physical artifact.
ConstitutionDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, formed for the sole purpose of putting an original copy of the Constitution back in the hands of the people.
Investor Cooper Turley says DAOs are like an “internet community with a shared bank account.” Turley helps build several popular DAOs.
“Basically, a small group of people come together to form a chat group, and then they decide to pull capital together, [typically] using an Ethereum wallet,” Turley previously told CNBC.
DAOs take coordination of resources on the internet to a new level, according to Auston Bunsen, co-founder of QuikNode, which provides blockchain infrastructure to developers and companies. Think random strangers coordinating to buy a basketball team, Bunsen told CNBC.
“They represent a new kind of organization moving at hyper speed,” said Bunsen.
If ConstitutionDAO secures the winning bid with this consortium of crypto bidders, each contributor will fractionally own part of the text.
“Everyone who buys in, they get a portion of the governance token of the DAO, and they can then use that token to vote on where the Constitution should actually be custodied,” ConstitutionDAO contributor Alice Ma told CNBC.
The group is currently weighing different museums across the country, should they take home the first edition copy.