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ConstitutionDAO will shut down after losing bid for Constitution

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Contributors will be able to get refunds indefinitely

One of 13 remaining copies of the Official Edition of the Constitution.
Image: Sotheby’s

The organizers behind ConstitutionDAO have decided to shut the group down after raising $47 million in cryptocurrency and then failing to win an auction for a rare copy of the US Constitution.

Many members of ConstitutionDAO had expressed hope that the group could live on, albeit with some alternative goal given that there are currently no other famous copies of the Constitution at auction. Group leaders initially floated launching a new token for members who wanted to take part in the group’s continuation, called We The People tokens, but later backtracked, saying they should have given it more consideration. It was never made clear what, exactly, the group might focus on if it were to continue.

Now, five days after the auction, group organizers say they’re shutting down ConstitutionDAO for good. “The community has taken all actions that it was organized to accomplish,” Graham Novak, a ConstitutionDAO organizer, wrote in the group’s Discord. The Discord channel will remain operational for the next two weeks, then shift into a read-only mode.

“We have determined that building and maintaining an ongoing project is not something that we as a core team are able to support, given the technical and administrative requirements of doing it properly,” Novak wrote. He said there will be “no time limit” on claiming refunds for those who contributed Ether for the auction.

Organizers didn’t say how much money has been returned via refunds yet, but there’s been concern that contributors may get back much less than they put in. Gas fees — the transaction fee you have to pay to accomplish things on the Ethereum network — are fairly high, even for something as basic as sending money to another party. So someone who sent their money to ConstitutionDAO and now requests it back may find themselves with a lot less after paying for the round-trip journey.

Novak calls ConstitutionDAO a “landmark event” that showed the power of “web3.” The group organized rapidly over the course of a week in an attempt to win an early printing of the US Constitution at an auction at Sotheby’s. The group ultimately lost to Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund CEO, who bought the document for $43 million. ConstitutionDAO organizers later said spending more would have left too little money to care for the document.

“It is our sincere hope that this project will spark many others,” Novak writes.