Hedge fund billionaire and GOP megadonor Ken Griffin secured a copy of the U.S. Constitution this week with a $43.2 million auction bid that beat out thousands of crypto users who banded together to acquire the extremely rare first-run printing.
The Citadel CEO, who is also an art collector, plans to loan the document to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., a free museum founded by philanthropist and Walmart heiress Alice Walton. Citadel confirmed that Griffin made the winning bid at Thursday’s Sotheby’s auction. Sotheby’s said it set a world auction record for any book, manuscript, historical document or printed text.
“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.”
The document was previously in private hands, having last been auctioned in 1988 for $165,000.
The auction drew widespread attention this week because of an attempt by the crypto coalition ConstitutionDAO to crowdfund a winning bid. The 17,437 donors coalesced using a decentralized autonomous organization — a kind of computer protocol that has emerged from the digital currency boom. They also had said they would seek a partner to publicly display the document.
Griffin’s triumph over the group was noteworthy because he has been a vocal skeptic of the utility and value of cryptocurrencies.
"People are very focused in a world of new ideas and new creations. I love that part of America," Griffin said earlier this month at a New York Times DealBook conference. "I worry that some of that passion is misplaced when it comes to cryptocurrencies."