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People take pictures of a copy of the U.S. Constitution during an auction at Sotheby's last night. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

The story of a group of cryptocurrency traders failing to buy a copy of the Constitution shows just how much of a gulf there still is between the real world and the crypto world.

Driving the news: Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin outbid a group of 17,437 donors in an auction at Sotheby's last night, promising to pay $47.4 million for the document.

  • Because he had promised Sotheby's he would bid on the work, using something called an "irrevocable bid," or third-party guarantee, he was entitled to a $4.2 million rebate, bringing his net price down to $43.2 million.

Why it matters: As crypto adoption spreads, the asset class is going to be increasingly enmeshed with systems that have existed for centuries, like 277-year-old Sotheby's. The shenanigans show that players fluent in the old ways still have a narrow edge in the game.

Catch up quick: ConstitutionDAO this week raised about $47 million to bid on the document.

  • Think of ConstitutionDAO as a more pseudonymous, crypto-centric version of a GoFundMe or Kickstarter project, as Axios' Scott Rosenberg and Peter Allen Clark write.

Between the lines: The DAO wasn't legally allowed to bid on the Constitution. Instead, an old-fashioned LLC had to be constructed to make the bid, with extremely opaque governance ties between the DAO and the LLC.

The bottom line: Memes have become powerful enough to propel crypto participants into areas they barely understand.

  • But Griffin, a noted crypto skeptic, knew exactly how much money his opponents had and, therefore, exactly what he needed to bid to win the document.

Go deeper

Meet the modern crypto venture capital

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Crypto venture capital is a different game than traditional venture capital, which isn't something that every participating firm has yet to fully appreciate.

Why it matters: The key is matching the asset class in which you're investing.

Updated 14 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

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