In just a matter of days, a hastily organized yet scrappily efficacious band of crypto enthusiasts managed to combine the galvanizing forces of the “meme stock” and cryptocurrency movements to crowdfund more than $40 million and acquire a super-rare copy of the U.S. Constitution, using it as a symbol of how decentralized finance can empower the little guy against Wall Street billionaires. On Thursday, the most-hated of those Wall Street billionaires outbid them, spending $43.2 million on a purchase that is so steeped in levels of dark irony that we’re not even sure we can enjoy the weekend.
News that Citadel founder Ken Griffin had pipped the team behind ConstitutionDAO in a last-minute bidding war officiated by Sotheby’s hit on Friday afternoon, throwing yet another tonnage of outrage kerosene onto the flames of hatred that already burned so bright for the man that retail investors on social media refer to derisively as “Kenny G.” When retail investors post about short squeezing the stocks of GameStop
and other memes, it is Griffin that is almost always cited as the personification of whom they are hoping gets squozed. In fact, the Apes of Reddit have made Griffin into their prime villain, with daily onslaughts of memes using his face as a form of emotional target practice. The most popular of those being a still from a video that gives the billionaire hedge fund manager and market maker’s face a confused and gormless air that can be used as a canvas for text like “KenGriffinLied,” referring to their belief that Griffin perjured himself to Congress in February when he claimed that Citadel Securities played no role in Robinhood’s decision to restrict the trading of meme stocks on Jan 28. Citadel has consistently rebutted those charges, even tweeting out a Griffin statement via tweet in late September — an almost unheard moment of virtual intimacy between Griffin and his haters — and, also on Thursday, a federal judge in Florida dismissed a widely publicized lawsuit accusing the two firms of collusion in January. The Apes are also fond of memes that posit Griffin eats only mayonnaise. Those assertions have not been commented upon by Griffin or his team. All that enmity and trolling have clearly gotten Griffin’s attention. The famously press-shy billionaire has been increasingly vocal about his annoyance with the Apes turning him into the mayonnaise Darth Vader of modern finance. Just last week, Griffin said in an interview at the DealBook Summit that “The whole GameStop conspiracy…was like a bad comedy joke. It was like a Saturday Night Live sketch the whole time.” But by winning Thursday’s bidding war, Griffin has spent more than $43 million to troll his trolls right back, sending a message — purposefully or not — that he can still beat back the populist wave of modern investors using DeFi with just the power of his own will…and checkbook. And the response to Griffin’s constitutional clap back has been swift and brutal on social media. “Ken Griffin beat down a crowd-sourced effort to buy an early copy of the constitution on behalf of the American people,” blared a post on subreddit r/AMCStock. “If that isn’t the most Ken Griffin-ish thing you’ve ever heard.” “Blatant disregard for what it stands for. It’s an insult to law abiding citizens,” read on response. “That should belong to the people of the United States.” Other posts were less political science-minded. “KEN GRIFFIN BOUGHT THE CONSTITUTION – WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK!?!?” was the title of one example. On Twitter, many reactions were darkly funny, speaking to the troubled future of crowdsourced DeFi projects:
To arch bemusement:
To populist rage:
To high art:
But the overwhelming tone was reinforced energy to bring Griffin and Citadel down through meme stocks and more attacks similar to DAO. In fact, the most scintillating tweet of all might have come from the group that lost to Griffin at auction:
But while Griffin might be getting castigated for proving that billionaires always win, it would only be fair to mention that he will be donating his copy of the Constitution to a museum. “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.” That museum? The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., which was founded by a billionaire, Walmart
heiress Alice Walton. Like we said, so many levels to this one.