For the first time ever, the U.S. Government has shared photos of the rare, one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” according to Buzzfeed.
The record, once owned by Martin Shkreli, who is known to the public as “Pharma Bro,” was sold by the United States Government, the Department of Justice confirmed in July.
In October, it was reported that cryptocurrency company PleasrDAO bought the album, according to The New York Times.
PleasrDAO purchased the album for $4 million and took possession on September 10, according to the Times. The transaction was done “in a complex deal with multiple parties, one of whom remains unidentified,” the Times said in October. PleasrDAO hopes to make the album more widely available to the public, if it can get approval from RZA and producer Cilvaringz, Pitchfork reported.
The album was seized by U.S. marshals in 2018 after Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud and ordered to forfeit $7.36 million in assets, NME reported.
“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.”
Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Buzzfeed News has obtained never-before-seen images of the album, including the nickel-silver case, the leather-bound manuscript and the wooden box that houses all of the items. It also featured the bill of sale.
The photos and the documents obtained by Buzzfeed can be viewed here.
The proceeds from the sale were applied to a forfeiture money judgment against Shkreli, the DOJ announced.
The 38-year-old Shkreli forfeited his interest in the album following a conviction for engaging in securities fraud in 2017 and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
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 increased 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 Shkreli hiked the price up to $750 a tablet, Fox News reported. Shkreli was not criminally charged in connection with the price increase.
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 2016 video 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.”