The $2 million Wu-Tang Clan album bought by ‘pharma-bro’ Martin Shkreli has been sold by the US government for an undisclosed sum.
The record in question is 'Once Upon A Time In Shaolin', a 31-track double album the hip hop group spent six years recording, packaged in a handmade silver and nickel case. A 174-page leather-bound book is also included. At the time it was produced, band member RZA stated he wanted the release to be viewed as a piece of contemporary art.
Shkreli had owed $7.4million in forfeiture following prosecution and sentencing in 2018 — for lying to and defrauding investors. He was given seven years custodial sentence and is due for release in 2022. A document produced by lawyers as part of a separate civil case in Manhattan earlier this year showed he had reduced the debt by $5million. The LP, which he purchased at auction in 2015 for $2million, has now cleared the balance.
“With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn M Kasulis said in a release. Attorney Benjamin Brafman, who represented Shkreli, confirmed the debt had been paid but was unable to give further information due to a confidentiality agreement.
Prior to his conviction, Shkreli achieved notoriety in 2015 for an unrelated controversy in which he played a role in inflating the price of Daraprim by 5,000%. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a rare condition that can be fatal for people with immune-system conditions such as Aids.
In 2016, Shkreli promised to release 'One Upon A Time...' if Donald Trump won the US Presidential Election and destroy it if Hilary Clinton emerged as victor. In the end, the intro and one of the tracks were streamed. Shkreli also claims to have a copy of Lil Wayne's unreleased album, 'Tha Carter V'.
In 2019, an area of the crew's birthplace — Staten Island, New York — was named Wu-Tang Clan District to honour their original home of Park Hill, Clinton. Last year, the Clan published a printed guide on how to 'Protect Ya Neck' during the coronavirus pandemic in a nod to their classic 1993 track.