- A DAO formed last week to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution at auction.
- It's raised over $30 million, well over the price at which the document is valued.
In less than a week, the decentralized autonomous organization ConstitutionDAO has raised over $30 million in Ethereum to purchase a copy of the US Constitution that will be auctioned by Sotheby’s tomorrow at 6:30pm EST. The DAO’s initial goal was to raise $15 million to $20 million, which is the auction house’s estimated value of the historical document.
ConstitutionDAO began less than a week ago, but has quickly attracted over 15,000 contributors donating an average of $2,000 each. Last night, curation studio and investment firm Metaversal contributed $1 million, an act which inspired an anonymous donor to contribute $4 million to the effort.
The DAO’s mission remains the same: to win the auction and keep this copy of the Constitution in the public sphere. “Web3 is somewhat about decentralizing public goods," supporter Ittai Svidler explained. “And what can be considered a public good if not the Constitution that founded the country?”
DAO contributor Nicole Ruiz explained on a Twitter Space today that the team doesn’t have a planned home for the document, but wants to house it at a museum or archive that is free to access. Fellow DAO members are also exploring the idea of having the Constitution copy travel to multiple locations so those in remote locations can see the famous document.
The DAO began collecting money via fundraising platform JuiceBox on November 14. According to ConstitutionDAO contributor Packy McCormick, the project raised $3 million in its first 12 hours. But donations have continued to pour in, and the DAO has continued to raise its donation cap.
Organizers say the extra money will function as a safety net in case of a bidding war. ConstitutionDAO has assured contributors that if it loses the auction or has leftover money, it will return the funds to members. But the DAO hasn’t specified how exactly the process will work if fractional refunds are deemed necessary.
JuiceBox may be able to help resolve this potential challenge. Core contributor Julian Weisser said today the platform was chosen to meet priorities such as allowing off-chain transactions, issuing refunds, and handling donations in excess of the funding goal.
“Juicebox passed a resolution as a DAO to waive all of their fees....[and] we’ve raised twice on Juicebox than what all of the other platforms have raised ever,” Weisser said.
my bad… 31 MILLION DOLLARS
— ConstitutionDAO (📜, 📜) (@ConstitutionDAO) November 17, 2021
Contributor David Silverman highlighted the benefits of using decentralized autonomous organizations—flat structures that run on a blockchain and use digital tokens to vote on decisions—over traditional hierarchical structures.
“There isn’t really any analog that can spin that up in less than three days’ time," he explained. “And using cryptocurrency to handle the donation flows guarantees that everyone is able to contribute around the world without having to wait, you know, worry about waiting for banking clearance and currency conversions and all kinds of other settlement.”
While ConstitutionDAO has found quick success, it has nonetheless faced several challenges. One of the group’s largest hurdles has been trying to explain how Ethereum works to those unfamiliar with blockchain technology and high gas fees. ConstitutionDAO said that supporters have had to pay Ethereum network transaction fees of $40-100 for a single donation.
Then, there's the actual purchase of the document. A spokesperson for the project said blockchain-based nonprofit Endaoment "will serve as the purchasing entity to sponsor custody and educational use of the constitution until ConstitutionDAO establishes itself as a 501(c)3."
But according to supporter Graham Novak, this is all just as new as the Constitution itself once was. “What we’re trying right now is the great decentralized blockchain experiment,” he said.