A crypto collective has failed in its attempt to buy an ultra-rare first edition copy of the US Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction.

Organised via social media, the ConstitutionDAO had sprung up a just week ago and in just three days managed to raise 11,597 Ethereum (US$46.2 million) in exchange for PEOPLE tokens that were to be used to govern the collective.

But it was sold to another bidder for $US43.2 million. Organisers said they had calculated an “absolute max” they could pay while still leaving a reserve for insuring, storing and transporting the artifact, and the opposing bidder had crossed that maximum.

“While this wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, we still made history tonight with ConstitutionDAO,” wrote organiser “Julian Weisser” on Discord.

“This is the largest crowdfund for a physical object that we are aware of — crypto or fiat. We are so incredibly grateful to have done this together with you all and are still in shock that we even got this far.”

The group had 17,437 donors, with a median donation size of US$206.26, many of which came from wallets that had just been initialised for the first time.

“We have educated an entire cohort of people around the world – from museum curators and art directors to our grandmothers asking us what eth is when they read about us in the news – about the possibilities of web3.”

Supporters had tuned in to a livestream to eagerly watch the auction, only to become confused over whom their representative was – Brooke or David?

“It was already an ominous sign that such a basic thing was not communicated to dao members: that is more disappointing than the bidding,” one person wrote on Twitter.

It wasn’t immediately clear who the winning bidder was.

Banksy work sold in Ether

Earlier the auction house made history by accepting bids in Ethereum for two Banksy artworks, the first time the famed auction house had accepted cryptocurrency payments for a physical artwork. Auctioneer Oliver Barker called out bids in both US dollars and Ethereum.

“Tonight marks the first time that Ether has made its entries into our salesrooms, and the first time that it’s been married with two physical works of art in this way,” Barker said. “How appropriate it be for works by Banksy, the art world’s ultimate disrupter.”

“Pretty historic moment imo, the old guard accepting the new,” tweeted Will O’Brien.

Banksy’s 2006 painting Trolley Hunters sold for 1,397 Ether, or US$5.6 million, while Love in the Air sold for 1,696 Ether (US$8 million).

Love is in the Air

Thanks to Sotheby’s partnership with Coinbase Commerce, the buyer will be able “to pay the hammer price in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or USD Coin should they choose,” according to Sotheby’s. But Bitcoin wasn’t mentioned at all during the auction, while Ethereum was listed as a currency alongside USD, Euros, yen and yuan.