Earlier this month, a rag-tag bunch of crypto heads tried to collectively raise enough money to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction. ConstitutionDAO managed to raise $49.8 million in Ethereum, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Initially the copy was expected to sell for somewhere between $15 and $20 million, but instead sold for $43 million due to intense public interest in the lot. After the sale that attention shifted to a copy of another important historical document, the Declaration of Independence.
In an interesting parallel, one of the few broadside copies—one of 200 printed by John Dunlap, of which there are only 25 still known in existence—of the Declaration of Independence happens to be collectively owned. Rally, an investment platform that offers equity shares in collectibles, sold 80,000 shares at $25 for a total of $2 million to Rally members. Currently, 5,500 individuals hold shares in the Declaration of Independence. The average investor in the Declaration spent around $350.
Rob Petrozzo, co-founder of Rally, is proud that through the company an average person can own a piece of history. “Being able to get somebody in at the ground floor of an asset like this and do it at a price point that they’re comfortable with has always been one of the big goals for our platform,” Petrozzo said.
Now, however, a buyer has offered Rally a bid between $2.6 and $2.8 million for the Declaration of Independence just a week after the initial offering. “With everything that happened with ConstitutionDAO there was a lot of attention for assets like [the Constitution],” said Petrozzo, “I think a lot of collectors didn’t realize that a document like the Declaration of Independence or a Constitution was available.”
Starting today, the holders will vote on whether they’d like to sell or hold on to the asset. If the investors decide to sell, each will get returns on their respective shares. If the investors decide to hold on to the Declaration, Rally is considering transferring the document from a storage facility to display it in their New York gallery, while awaiting an even larger offer. The document was on previously display at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2012. It is unclear if the bidder has plans to publicly display the artifact, should they be allowed to purchase it.
Regardless of the result, Petrozzo believes this is a big moment for the company and for the investors. “Democratization is so in focus right now but alternative assets don’t get much attention,” Petrozzo said. “To do this vote with so many people and to know the power is in their hands to make that decision for this asset, that’s a huge part of proving platforms like this can exist.”