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US government release new photos of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’

The record was re-sold by the government last year to repay Martin Shkreli’s outstanding debts

  • Gemma Ross | Photos: US Department Of Justice
  • 7 January 2022
US government release new photos of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’

The US Department Of Justice has released new, previously unseen photos of Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ record after auctioning it off to an undisclosed buyer in July last year.

A five-page purchase agreement can now be viewed online alongside a number of photos of the silver box-enclosed album from different angles. The pictures were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from journalist Jason Leopold of Buzzfeed News.

The record has had a turbulent history since its release some seven years ago, and now holds up as the most expensive music work ever sold. Following its official release in 2015, Wu-Tang Clan limited the number of copies sold to just one.

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Pharmaceutical firm CEO Martin Shkreli then bought the record for $2 million, who was later convicted of securities fraud in $7.36 million worth of damages and ordered to forfeit the money in assets.

The US government then seized the album in 2018 along with other assets. Last July, the Department Of Justice revealed that the record has been re-sold, but the price at which it was bought was undisclosed and kept a “trade secret”. Reports claim it sold for around $4 million - double Shkreli's initial payment.

Shkreli threatened to either erase Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah’s contributions to the album or destroy it altogether after his purchase. The ‘pharma bro’ was then called a “shithead” by Ghostface Killah.

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In new photos of the purchase agreement, the forfeiture order stated: “The United States and its agencies cannot take greater property rights from Mr. Shkreli than were granted by my client in the Purchase Agreement.”

Photos of the album also show the current state of the record after seven years since its release. Check out the full catalogue of new photos and the forfeiture agreement released by the US Department Of Justice here.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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