Griffin competed for the historic document during a single-lot evening sale in New York that was sandwiched between two contemporary art sales. Beating one other bidder on the phone with Sotheby’s head of private sales David Schrader, Griffin placed the winning bid of $41 million, more than doubling its $15 million low estimate. The Chicago mogul said he would loan the document for exhibition to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which was founded by another billionaire and mega-collector, Alice Walton.
In addition to Schrader’s client, Griffin also outbid a coalition of crypto investors, organized under group ConstitutionDAO, who had raised more than $40 million from over 17,000 people in the hopes of purchasing the document.
“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 issued by Sotheby’s today. “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.”
The rare edition was sold by New York philanthropist Dorothy Tapper Goldman, and it is one of only 13 surviving original copies of the founding document. It is one of two versions that remains in private hands. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the new owner’s namesake foundation, which promotes educational causes related to constitutional history.
Goldman had owned the copy since 1997, when she inherited it upon the death of her husband, Harry Goldman. Harry had purchased it at Sotheby’s for $165,000 in 1988, when it was sold by a collector from Philadelphia. Before Harry’s death, he loaned his copy to the U.S. Supreme Court for a year to coincide with the 1987 bicentennial of the Constitution’s ratification.