Constitution is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). DAO pooled over $46 million to purchase a rare first printing of the United States Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction in order to put “The Constitution in the Hands of The People.” Despite raising more money than the winning bid, the DAO was unable to win the auction.
The project grew to a group of 17,437 contributors who raised more than double the price Sotheby’s had estimated in just a few days. The sale, however, was won by another bidder for $41 million.
Around 20% of contributors reportedly made their first crypto transaction just to participate. There were no profit expectations, only big ideas, humor, transparency, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. ConstitutionDAO planned to use web3’s self-governance to allow contributors to make decisions about destination and preservation.
The Dao claimed on Twitter that they broke records for the largest crowdfund for a physical object, the most money crowdfunded in 72 hours, becoming the first DAO Sotheby’s has ever worked with, increasing interest in cryptocurrency among diverse groups of people, and spreading education.
What Happened When Constitution DAO Lost The Bid?
Although ConstitutionDAO raised more than 41 million dollars, Sotheby’s standard seller’s commission is “10 percent of the hammer price,” plus taxes and ETH gas fees, so we can see why they struggled.
Furthermore, a significant part of the reason was the group’s responsibility for the document’s preservation. The group members carefully investigated the path to take for its preservation after winning the auction and came up with a figure for its “proper care and maintenance.”
But why would someone spend money on something they can’t have?
The DAO’s main idea was that “historic artifacts are meant to be shared and enjoyed,” rather than owned by private parties, but some users misunderstood their vision and referred to it as “spending money to have nothing.”
The project received an average donation of $206,26. Sure, one could make a long list of material items that could be purchased for that price, but how often do you get to test the limits of what a group of people can accomplish in just a few days by working together to achieve a common goal?
Of course, people like the idea, in a very American way, of purchasing the United States Constitution from a private entity as a symbol of their freedom. And, of course, we all know that this would not have meant actually purchasing the constitution itself — that would have most likely resulted in a diametrically opposed and dystopic concept.
However, this project goes beyond that. It is about achieving goals that many people only wish to achieve. It is about self-government, empowerment, and democracy, as well as an open-ended answer to the question. What are our options?
We can also delve deeper:
How liberated do Americans really feel? Can the American dream be found inside ICE detention centers? Student loans, inflation, homelessness, hate crimes, little chance of affording a home, and inadequate health care are all issues. Then there’s freedom, or the promises of a free country.
We could also argue that freedom comes from within, and that any given man might surprise himself one day by recognizing it while turning around a corner or even while confined in a prison.
Is the nature of crypto communities’ decentralized autonomy a call to recognize one’s own voice of freedom? Is it the human desire to share, to build alongside others? Is it an experiment to see if we can replicate our own democratic model? We’ll spend the next few years watching how this or other crypto groups lead us to some answers and many more questions.
According to the Smithsonian’s educational website, “[historical] artifacts are such valuable tools for exploring the past because of the contest and conflict they embody, and the way they combine use and meaning.” Whatever the outcome of the auction, we are unlikely to be able to separate the rare document from this historical moment. Somehow, 17,437 people etched their willingness into the path of the United States Constitution.
One now goes to bed wondering what will happen next.
Some users would rather vote than have their contribution returned, hoping for more possibilities, and have shared many big ideas, ranging from donating to organizations to using the space to pay off student loans, among other things. Many suggestions come across as harmless jokes, but that is exactly how this project began.