A hedge fund billionaire outbid crypto investors for a rare copy of the US Constitution

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It turns out the way to beat the collective will of the internet’s cryptocurrency fans is to have way, way more money than them. Ken Griffin, the CEO and founder of Citadel, has revealed himself as the winner of last night’s $43.2 million auction for a rare copy of the US Constitution. A collective of crypto enthusiasts, calling themselves ConstitutionDAO, managed to raise $47 million in about a week’s time in a quixotic attempt to win the document themselves and put it on display to the public for free.

While the DAO didn’t win, they did manage to push the price up on Griffin, with the two parties slowly going back and forth million by million during the auction last night, each seemingly uncertain if they would be able to go a million higher with every passing bid. Finally, ConstitutionDAO threw in the towel, telling supporters they wouldn’t have had enough remaining money to “insure, store, and transport the document.”

Griffin seems to be aware that a collective of 17,000 people will be pretty unhappy with him, so, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, he’s committing to roughly the same goals that they laid out for the document had they won the auction. “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,” he said in a statement. That’ll start with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which has free admission.

Citadel is one of the largest hedge funds in the world, and Forbes ranks him fourth on their list of wealthiest hedge fund managers, with a net worth of $16.1 billion. His win at the auction may only further frustrate the internet-first finance crowd, some of whom are skeptical of Griffin’s other company, Citadel Securities, because it pays Robinhood to execute its users’ trading orders. Just this week, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Robinhood and Citadel Securities colluded to freeze trading during the GameStonk explosion in early 2021.

After losing the bid, ConstitutionDAO is essentially dissolving and plans to return all funds raised to contributors, minus transaction fees. The group’s organizers say “this wasn’t the outcome we hoped for,” but they were “still in shock that we even got this far.”

Correction November 19th, 6:10PM ET: Griffin is the majority owner of both Citadel and Citadel Securities, but the two companies operate independently, according to a Citadel Securities spokesperson. This story originally stated Citadel Securities was a subsidiary of Citadel.