Investor Griffin buys rare copy of U.S. Constitution for $43.2 mln at Sotheby's auction

U.S. Constitution auction in New York
A 1787 copy of the United States Constitution that sold for $43.2 million, a new world record for the most valuable historical document ever sold at an auction, at Sotheby's in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. September 9, 2021. Ardon Bar-Hama/SOTHEBY'S/Handout via REUTERS

NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Kenneth Griffin outbid on online cryptocurrency group to buy a first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution for $43.2 million at Sotheby's on Thursday, the auction house and a spokesman for Griffin said on Friday.

The hammer came down after an eight-minute bidding battle on the telephones and set a world auction record for any book, manuscript, historical document or printed text, Sotheby's said.

Griffin, who founded $43 billion investment firm Citadel, is a prominent art collector and plans to loan the work to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it will be on display.

"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."

Sotheby's said the document is one of just 13 known copies of the official printing produced for the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and submission to the Continental Congress, and only two copies of the first printing of the Constitution that remains in private hands. This printing of the Constitution was last sold at auction in 1988 for $165,000, the auction house said.

Griffin, whose hedge fund invests in many of the world's biggest companies and whose views on the economy and markets are widely followed, outbid the cryptocurrency group ConstitionDAO, which had crowdfunded over $46 million. The group said on Twitter that it had lost.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York and Alun John; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Leslie Adler

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