Only Copy of Rare Wu-Tang Clan Record Once Owned by Martin Shkreli Is Sold by US Government
“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is arguably the most coveted music collector’s item to emerge in the 21st century.
Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” once owned by Martin Shkreli, who is known to the public as “Pharma Bro,” has been sold by the United States Government to an undisclosed buyer, the Department of Justice confirmed Tuesday in a press release.
The proceeds from the sale will be applied to a forfeiture money judgment against Shkreli, the DOJ announced.
The 38-year-old Shkreli forfeited his interest in the album following conviction for engaging in securities fraud schemes in 2017 and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
“Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself. With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
Neither the identity of the album's buyer nor the purchase price were revealed Tuesday by the DOJ, who cited a confidentiality provision in the contract, according to CNBC. However, the DOJ said that the proceeds of the album’s sale were enough to satisfy what remained of a nearly $7.4 million forfeiture judgment against Shkreli.
Shkreli purchased the rare Wu-Tang Clan album at auction in 2015 for $2 million.
“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” became the hottest item for music fans to try and access as the record, which apparently contains 31 songs, was recorded in secret by the Staten Island hip-hop collective and only one copy was made. The record is considered both an “album and an artifact,” according to the DOJ. The album includes a hand-carved nickel-silver box as well as a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity; it is also subject to various restrictions, including those relating to the duplication of its sound recordings.
"The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero," the group explained on the album’s website. "Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. The album is a piece of contemporary art."
Following his conviction, Shkreli attempted to sell “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” through an online auction but failed.
Shkreli, the founder and managing member of hedge funds MSMB Capital Management LP and MSMB Healthcare Management LP, and the former Chief Executive Officer of Retrophin Inc., was convicted in August 2017 of two counts of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy for orchestrating a series of schemes to defraud investors in the hedge funds and to manipulate the price and trading volume of Retrophin’s stock.
He inflated the price of a drug, Daraprim, used to treat HIV patients, newborns and malaria infections, by 5,000% using his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. The original cost of the drug was $13.50, when Shrkeli hiked the price up to $750 a tablet, Fox News reported.
Following the news of the pill’s price hike, many dubbed Shkreli “Pharma Bro,” and even led to Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah to come after the hedge-fund head in a video in 2016 in which the rapper called him “a super villain.”
“People can’t pay that much man,” Ghostface said in the video. “You a real killer man, you’re a real killer. But you’re a soft killer. Youse a clown.”
Ghostface continued, “You ain’t been through nothing,” adding, “you never been in the crib with welfare cheese and fried bologna and all that stuff like that for dinner at night.”
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