# Electrostatic energy of a multipole

In classical electrostatics, we learn that the electrostatic potential of an electric dipole at a distance $$r$$ is proportional to $$1/r^2$$. Then putting two dipoles together to form a quadrupole, the potential goes as $$1/r^3$$ and so on.

Does this mean that the electrostatic potential energy gets smaller the more "poles" the system has? And if so, isn't this counter-intuitive since it would take more work (and defining electrostatic energy as the amount of work needed to move electric charges, according to Griffiths's Introduction to Electrodynamics) to assemble a system containing more charges - hence a system containing more charges should have more electrostatic potential energy?