A first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution from 1787 – one of only two still in private hands – will be auctioned by Sotheby's next month and is expected to fetch bids of up to $30 million.
Approximately 500 original copies of the Constitution were printed for delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Thirteen of them are still in existence, 11 of which are on display for the public at various locations, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library of Congress, the Delaware Hall of Records and the Huntington Library.
Last year, Sotheby's auctioned off the only other privately held copy for $43.2 million to Chicago hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin, who loaned it to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Griffin had to outbid ConstitutionDAO, a decentralized organization that raised more than $40 million worth of cryptocurrency for the auction.
"The unprecedented sale result we achieved for the Constitution last November was a truly unique and inspired moment – one that signifies not only the extreme rarity of first printing copies of the Constitution available for private ownership, but also the enduring importance and influence of the Constitution as the ultimate expression of the democratic principles that inform our daily lives more than 200 years since it was first written," Richard Austin, global head of books and manuscripts for Sotheby's, said in a statement.
A specialist points to the list of the 13 original states in one of only two known copies of The Official Edition of the Constitution, the First Printing of the Final Text of the Constitution is displayed at Sotheby's during a media preview at Sotheb
The edition going up for auction next month last appeared at auction in 1984 in Philadelphia, when it was acquired as a gift for Adrian Van Sinderen.
"A year later after the record-breaking sale, we hope the remarkable opportunity to acquire one of two privately owned copies of the Constitution will inspire a similar response that galvanized the public last year," Austin said.