A rare first impression of the US Constitution is on its way to Bentonville


What’s the point?

Bizarre bidding war between billionaire and cryptocurrency enthusiasts ends with rare copy of US Constitution heading to Bentonville

“Even though the nation was much smaller than it is today, there were still a lot of people there. There was no way to distribute a document of this size. It had to be printed through Congress. continental, and that’s what the people of New York, residents of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island and Delaware read when they called their own conventions within their state to say “Let’s talk about it. Do we want to join or not? “So without that feeling, we wouldn’t have had a nation.”

– Selby Kiffer, Senior International Specialist, Books and Manuscripts, at Sotheby’s


[DROP CAP] Last Tuesday evening, in the auction house of Sotheby’s in Manhattan, the auction started at 10 million dollars.

It had been 33 years since no one had the opportunity to buy the object at auction. S. Howard Goldman, New York real estate developer and private collector of American documents, paid $ 165,000 in 1988 for a first impression of the Constitution of the United States.

Two hundred and one years before Goldman’s purchase, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the original product of their four months of work in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, establishing the framework by which the people of the United States would govern themselves.

After the conclusion of this historic convention, printers David Claypool and John Dunlap painstakingly defined the type for the first printing of approximately 500 official copies, to be provided to the Continental Congress and to be taken home by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Thirteen of these original copies – only two in private hands – exist today.

Back to last Tuesday night: Cryptocurrency traders a week ago had the idea of ​​pooling their digital currency resources for a chance to buy the copy of the late Howard Goldman, valued by Sotheby’s between 15-20 millions of dollars. Within days, 17,000 backers joined the effort, committing around $ 40 million, US

The auction lasted eight minutes. The second bid – a breathtaking $ 30 million – came from Kenneth Griffin, a hedge fund manager and billionaire who wouldn’t like cryptocurrency. When the auction ceased, he had pledged $ 43.2 million, a record price for a document or book sold at auction.

Perhaps as shocking as the price is where Sotheby’s says Griffin first plans to exhibit his new acquisition: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

A spokesperson for the museum said last week it had no firm exhibition plan in place except that it would happen in 2022.

Thinking that a $ 43.2 million document printed in Philadelphia just days after George Washington signed the original will now end up in what was just over a decade ago a county ravine of Benton, Arkansas, is amazing.

All we can do is borrow a phrase from the great Ukrainian-American philosopher Yakov Smirnoff: What a country!


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