Dorothy Tapper Goldman, Who Sold Rare Copy of Constitution, Dies at 78

Dorothy Tapper Goldman, a philanthropist and major collector of American historical documents who in 2021 sold her original printed copy of the U.S. Constitution, which her husband had bought in 1988 for $165,000, for a record-setting $43.2 million, died on July 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 78.

The cause was metastatic breast cancer, her daughter, Barbra Siskin, said.

The sale of the document, at Sotheby’s in New York, generated widespread attention for three reasons:

It is one of only 13 known copies of the first printing of the Constitution, in 1787, and one of only two copies held privately.

The winning bid remains a record for a document, manuscript or book sold at auction.

And the purchaser was Ken Griffin, the billionaire chief executive of the hedge fund Citadel, who outbid ConstitutionDAO, a group of cryptocurrency fans who had conducted a frenzied online crowdfunding campaign that in a single week raised more than $40 million.

Ms. Goldman used the proceeds from the sale to establish the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, which has made substantial contributions to the New-York Historical Society, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she advocated for the inclusion of Native American art.

The original 1787 printing of the U.S. Constitution that Ms. Goldman sold for $43.2 million. The sale set a record for a document, manuscript or book sold at auction.Credit… Ardon Bar-Hama

She also supported the Grolier Society of the City of New York, the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia and the Tongabezi Trust School in Zambia.

Louise Mirrer, president of the Historical Society, which was granted $10 million to train teachers to educate students about democracy, said that Ms. Goldman’s interest in the Constitution had been “rooted in and perpetuated by an inclusive ‘We the People,’ Americans of different origins and experiences — immigrants and refugees among them — collaborating and working together, each contributing to the good of the nation in their own way.”

The former Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, who knew Ms. Goldman from her involvement with the Supreme Court Historical Society, said in an email on Monday: “She took particular pleasure in showing lawyers, particularly younger lawyers, her original copies of the Constitution and other historical documents. Seeing those original documents makes a lasting impression and reinforces the values that underlie them.”

Ms. Goldman and her husband, S. Howard Goldman, a New York real estate developer who was also a collector of American historical documents, each sold the bulk of their trove of rare American documents.

Mr. Goldman, who died in 1997, sold much of his collection, except for the Constitution, in 1995. Ms. Goldman became an avid collector herself and auctioned off all of her collection in 2021, along with the Constitution copy.

That 2021 sale included 75 constitutions from states and other jurisdictions and related documents.

Dorothy Elizabeth Tapper was born on Oct. 14, 1944, in Jacksonville, Fla., and was raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Her father, Irving, the son of an immigrant from Eastern Europe, was a pediatric dentist. Her mother, Jeanne (Siff) Tapper, was active in community affairs.

Ms. Tapper earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1966 from Tufts University in Massachusetts and a master’s in education from the Massachusetts College of Art (now the Massachusetts College of Art and Design) in 1988.

She taught in the departments of interior design and architecture of the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where she was a tenured professor.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her son, Mark Polansky, both from her first marriage, which ended in divorce; two grandchildren; and two stepsons, Jeff and Jim Goldman.

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