History | November 20, 2021 4:43 pm

There Are 13 First Copies of the Constitution Left. One Just Sold at Auction for $43 Million.

This was far in excess of what was estimated

Constitution, in building form
The Constitution, in building form.
Jeffrey M. Vinocur, CC BY 2.5

In 1787, printers Dunlap and Claypoole printed up 500 copies of the United States Constitution, commemorating the document’s completion. Only 13 remain. One of them was purchased by Howard Goldman in 1988 for the sum of $165,000. Goldman has since died, and his widow Dorothy Tapper Goldman sold his copy of the Constitution via Sotheby’s. Turns out its new owner paid ever so slightly more for it than Goldman had all those years ago.

A new article at Robb Reports features a description of the auction, which included two different bidders bringing the sale price higher and higher. In the end, including fees, the winning bidder paid $43 million for the document. The low estimate for the sale price? $15 million.

Almost as notable as the sale price was one of the parties bidding for the copy of the Constitution — albeit not the winning one. That would be ConstitutionDAO, an online crowdfunding campaign using cryptocurrency. As Kevin Roose reported for the New York Times, the “DAO” in the name stands for “decentralized online authority.” A similarly-organized group was set up to purchase the rare Wu-Tang Clan album previously owned by Martin Shkreli.

Of the 13 remaining first copies of the Constitution, only one is still in private hands — and this one is it.