Citadel CEO and founder Kenneth Griffin was the winning bidder of a heated competition to buy a rare first printing of the U.S. Constitution at Sotheby’s on Thursday evening, for a total price of US$43.2 million, the auction house announced Friday.
Griffin beat out a crypto collective known as ConstitutionDAO, which reportedly had amassed about US$40 million from more than 17,000 donors, to secure the work after a nearly eight-minute bidding battle.
The veteran art buyer, considered a top-200 collector by ArtNews and the owner of works by dozens of blue-chip artists—including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, among many others—will be loaning the work to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
The nonprofit museum was founded by Alice Walton, an heir of Walmart founder Sam Walton and a consummate collector, who is also listed among ArtNews’ top 200 collectors.
“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. “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.”
He added that he is pleased Crystal Bridges will be the first venue to display it, noting that the museum always offers free admission.
“We are honored to exhibit one of the most important documents in our nation’s history from our location in the Heartland of America,” Olivia Walton, Crystal Bridges board chairperson said in a statement. “We welcome our neighbors and diverse visitors from across the country and around the world to see the U.S. Constitution alongside our art collection that focuses on telling the story of the history of America.”
The sale was the highest price achieved at auction for any book, manuscript, or printed text, according to Sotheby’s.
The sale was the highest price achieved at auction for any book, manuscript, or printed text, according to Sotheby’s. The document, one of only two of 13 known existing copies in private hands, was from the collection of Dorothy Tapper Goldman, wife of the late S. Howard Goldman, a New York real estate developer who died in 1997. In 1988, the same document was auctioned at Sotheby’s for US$165,000.
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