A Rare, Original Print of the U.S. Constitution Just Sold for a Record-Breaking $43 Million

The document on display at Sotheby's in New York City nearlier this fall.
The document on display at Sotheby's in New York City nearlier this fall. / Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

After the U.S. Constitution was signed—by most, but not all, of the Constitutional Convention’s delegates—on September 17, 1787, about 500 copies were printed for internal government use. From that first printing, only 13 still exist (that we know of).

One of them, as PhillyVoice reports, recently fetched $43.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction, making it the most expensive historical document ever sold. The previous record-holder was Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, which Bill Gates bought for $30.8 million in 1994.

At the time of the sale on November 18, the buyer remained anonymous. But he’s since revealed himself as 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 said in a statement, per Artnet News. “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.”

A close-up of Griffin's new toy.
A close-up of Griffin's new toy. / Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Its first stop (and the only one announced so far) is Bentonville, Arkansas’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a free institution established in 2011 by Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton and the 17th richest person in the world.

Griffin wasn’t without bidding competition. A crowdfunding operation calling itself ConstitutionDAO managed to raise $47 million in cryptocurrency from 17,437 donors in the days leading up to the auction. The colossal sum was enough to help hike up the price of the document far beyond its original estimated value of $15 to $20 million. Unfortunately, as The Verge reports, the organization dropped out of the race once it got to the point where there wouldn’t be enough leftover funds to “insure, store, and transport the document.”

“How much for Citadel?” ConstitutionDAO tweeted the day after the auction.

[h/t PhillyVoice]