In brief

  • ConstitutionDAO tried to buy the U.S. Constitution at a Sotheby's auction.
  • It failed, and now it has to work out what to do with the $45 million it raised.
  • Some people want the show to keep on going.

ConstitutionDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization with over 17,000 contributors and $45 million in funds, has faced a number of challenges since its inception less than two weeks ago. Last week, the DAO lost the Sotheby’s auction to purchase a copy of the US Constitution. Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin outbid the DAO and bought the document for $41 million.

ConstitutionDAO had raised over $45 million for the auction, but was unable to compete against Griffin’s final bid due to hidden expenses such as Sotheby’s auction fee of 13.9% and the costs to preserve and transport the historic document. This caused confusion and frustration, as some felt the DAO had not been transparent enough with its contributors and closed fundraising too early. 

Now that the auction is over, ConstitutionDAO is fracturing. Some members are demanding refunds while others are urging the DAO to pursue a new project with all that capital. Since it began, ConstitutionDAO has maintained that if it lost the auction, all contributors would be refunded. What many donors new to the Ethereum ecosystem didn’t realize, however, was that the network’s high gas fees meant no one would see their full donation amount returned. 

While many eagerly await pro-rata refunds, others in the DAO’s Discord community do not want to pay the refund gas fees. Instead, they hope the DAO will pursue another historical artifact or cause.

In response, the DAO has announced it will give contributors a choice. They can either receive refunds, remain in the DAO and receive a new “We The People” governance token or make a decision at a later date. Those who choose to remain in the DAO will be able to vote on future governance matters.

“We’ll soon be proposing a plan that outlines governance, vision, and values, for the community to review and comment on,” the group’s organizers wrote on Twitter

Currently, it’s not clear what the DAO’s next project will be. Since the auction night fiasco — where misinformation spread like wildfire due to a lack of communication — the DAO is taking some time to plan out its next steps. Core contributor Brian Wagner and Web 3 enthusiast Liminal Warmth have been announced as the DAO’s new leaders going forward.

While the DAO’s next project has yet to be announced, the massive community has a range of ideas. Some want the DAO to pursue a copy of the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, while others have suggested they create a new Constitution for Web 3.