High ETH gas fees add ConstitutionDAO’s final curtain

By Raffaele Redi

The group noted its historic achievement as the largest crowdfunding initiative ever

Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman & Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art, taking the winning bid for the rare US Constitution copy at Sotheby's New York                                 
ConstitutionDAO’s crowdsourced $40m bid failed as the hammer fell on Sotheby’s chairman Brooke Lampley’s offer of $43m – Photo: Sotheby’s

After raising over $40m (€35.7m, £29.9m) and higher later, and rapidly uniting some 21 thousand people from around the world – including some 42,000 on Twitter – in just four days, the curtains have finally fallen on ConstitutionDAO, the international online community that banded together to try to buy one of 13 rare, original copies of the US Constitution.

The group’s efforts to raise money  through social media to buy the Constitution, which was auctioned off at Sotheby’s New York on Friday 19 November, marked the largest crowdfunding initiative ever put together, were outdone by a $43m bid from Sotheby’s chairman and worldwide head of sales of fine art Brooke Lampley.

The group said issuing refunds was now its top priority, and announced on its website that the project would be closing down, despite originally promising to continue: “We know everyone is eager to hear what the next steps for ConstitutionDAO are – and we've been deeply exploring several options,” ConstitutionDAO stated.

However, although DAO’s team announced its commitment to refund donators indefinitely, the high Ether (ETH) gas fees axe is swinging against the pay-back plan as currently, the average ethereum (ETH) transaction fee amounts to $41.15, or ETH0.0096, at the time of writing.

“Lol ok, so what happens to all the money from ppl who can't claim refunds because gas fees are too high? If the median donation was $200, that's gonna be a pretty decent chunk stuck in that wallet?” tweeted Dr Parik Panel, a self-described Chartered Fin-meme Analyst (CFA) and “Twitter’s most qualified fintwit account”.

Panel also suggested that other DAO (Decentralised autonomous organisation) members and enthusiasts are trying to suggest ways to avoid high gas fees.

The speech to the DAO community

Despite the refund issues, a lot of DAO community members have expressed their wish to continue with the DAO project. They have stated that they believed the project, while failing to achieve its original purpose, had nevertheless “made its course” after having considered exploring “many options for the future”.

“The past 10 days have been an incredible experience. We are so honoured and appreciative to have shared it with all of you, our web3 community. We know that everyone is eager to hear what’s next for ConstitutionDAO, and we’ve been deeply exploring many options,” the DAO community tweeted.

However, the DAO’s original community has since stated that: “Ultimately, we’ve decided that continuing without the unifying mission of buying the Constitution, setting up more official governance  and embarking on a new chapter is not something that we as a core team can support… Given this, we believe this project has run its course, as we as a community have accomplished what we set out to do.”

It remains to be seen whether the same community behind ConstitutionDAO will subsequently discover another project worth directing its keen members and resources towards.

“The Constitution DAO community has taken all actions that it was organized to accomplish: we raised capital, we bid at Sotheby’s, and upon losing, we made full refunds available to the community as promised.”

“…This project was a landmark event. We made history and showed the entire world that a group of internet friends can use the power of web3 to face a seemingly insurmountable goal and achieve incredible results on an impossible timeline. We hope this project will inspire others to build together and use the power of web3 to make a positive impact in the world,” ended The Constitution Dao team.

The auction at Sotheby’s

The rare copy of the First Printing of the Final Text of the United States Constitution was knocked out for $43.2m, more than double its $20m high estimate, setting a world auction record for any book, manuscript, historical document, or printed text, according to Sotheby’s.

Following an eight-minute bidding battle on the telephones, the hammer fell to Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman & Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art.

According to Sotheby’s, the extremely rare Constitution, now the longest continuing charter of government in the world, is one of just 13 known copies of the official printing produced for the delegates to Constitutional Convention and the Continental Congress, and only two copies of the first printing of the Constitution that remains in private hands.

The printing of the Constitution was last sold at auction in 1988, when it achieved $165,000 by Mrs Goldman’s late husband, S. Howard Goldman.

On offer from the collection of Dorothy Tapper Goldman, full proceeds from the sale of the collection will benefit The Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, whose mission is to further the understanding of the constitutional principles and how the acts of all citizens can impact our democracy, as Sotheby’s explained.

Selby Kiffer, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist for Books & Manuscripts, remarked: “The Constitution needs little introduction as one of the most influential and significant historical documents ever conceived."

Mrs Dorothy Tapper Goldman, Collector, Educator, and Philanthropist, commented: “I have not been the owner of the United States Constitution but rather the custodian who has cared for this precious document. …While a person may continue to own this Constitution, it belongs to all Americans of all genders, all colours, and religious beliefs. The Constitution is the backbone of our democracy.”

Further readings:

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