An Original Print of the U.S. Constitution Recently Sold for Record-Breaking $43 Million

Only 13 copies of our nation's founding document exist today.

When the United States Constitution was first signed in 1787, about 500 copies were printed for government use—only 13 still exist today, and one was recently auctioned off for a whopping $43.2 million. According to Mental Floss, our nation's founding document was sold during a Sotheby's auction to Ken Griffin, CEO and founder of the hedge fund Citadel. "The U.S. Constitution is a sacred document that enshrines the rights of every American and all those who aspire to be," Griffin says. "That is why I intend to ensure that this copy of our Constitution will be available for all Americans and visitors to view and appreciate in our museums and other public spaces."

The document sold on November 18, and though Griffin had initially chosen to remain an anonymous buyer, he has since come forward. The recent sale makes the Constitution the most expensive historical document ever sold, a title previously held by Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester, which Bill Gates purchased for $30.8 million in 1994. The new record is a surprise to many, as auctioneers only expected to rake in about $15 to $20 million for it.

us constitution auction at sothebys
Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

The copy Griffin purchased was last owned by New York real estate heiress Dorothy Goldman, who purchased it for $165,000 in 1988, PhillyVoice reports. It's just one of two original copies of the Constitution that exist outside an institutional collection. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has six, making it the nation's largest collection of hand-written drafts of the constitution. The rare printing's first stop is Bentonville, Arkansas, where it'll live in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a free institution founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton.

The auction is reportedly one of Sotheby's most watched ever, as it gained national traction when a crowdfunding operation called ConstitutionDAO raised about $47 million in cryptocurrency to purchase the document. Roughly 17,000 people contributed to the fund with the medium donation being around $200. Despite raking in a large sum of money, the group backed out when Griffin was prepared to put up $41 million (before fees) for the rare historical document, a price ConstitutionDAO wasn't prepared to match.

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