The US government has sold the only existing copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ LP to an unnamed buyer for an undisclosed price.
Obtained by Martin Shkreli in 2015, the limited edition album was sold by the government in order to fulfil debts in the drug firm executive’s ongoing securities fraud case.
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The record was originally purchased for $2 million and proceeds from the government’s sale will contribute to the settlement of an outstanding $7.36 million judgement. According to acting US Attorney Jacquelin Kasulis’s statement, Shkreli’s deal has now been paid in full, though a confidentiality agreement with the new buyer means prosecutors cannot share how much the album was sold for.
The notorious ‘Pharma Bro’ was ordered to forfeit assets, including the Wu-Tang record, in 2018 after being convicted of defrauding investors. Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison.
‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ is the seventh studio album by Wu-Tang Clan. The East Coast hip hop collective started working on the project in the late 2000s, before releasing a single copy in 2015.
The concept was introduced by Wu-Tang in response to the rise of music streaming and data consumption, which members thought was devaluing the art form.
Accompanied by a hand-carved silver box (pictured) and a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a document proving authenticity, the record is a one-of-a-kind collector’s item.
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After its initial sale, the record was referred to as the most expensive work of music ever sold.
In September 2015, Shkreli was condemned for buying and significantly raising the price of a drug used to treat Aids patients, pregnant and elderly people.
When notified that Shkreli was 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’s' highest bidder, Wu-Tang donated “a significant portion” of the sales to charity, according to Bloomberg.
Safi Bugel is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter