The US Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it had sold a one-of-a-kind record by the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. The singular copy of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" was previously owned by convicted hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli. That ownership was forfeited upon Shkreli's sentencing in 2018.
The album was sold for an undisclosed amount to a private buyer whose identity will remain anonymous, owing to a confidentiality provision within the sales contract, according to the Department of Justice. Funds from the sale will go toward the $7.4 million of forfeiture money that Shkreli owes.
In August 2017, Shkreli was found guilty of two counts of security fraud and one count of security fraud conspiracy. He is currently serving a 7-year sentence. His multiple requests to be released have been denied.
"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," said Jacquelyn Kasulis, the acting US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Shkreli was best known for hiking up the price of the anti-infection drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 in 2015 while working as the chief executive at Turing Pharmaceuticals, earning him the nickname "Pharma Bro" and, according to a 2017 BBC article, the title, "the most hated man in America."
Shkreli purchased the album in 2015 at an auction for $2 million, making it the most expensive record ever sold. It was marketed as "both a work of art and an audio artifact" and included a hand-carved nickel and silver box as well as a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity.
The sale was finalized before Shkreli's nefarious business dealings came to light, after which the Wu-Tang Clan issued a statement saying that most of the proceeds had been donated to charity.
According to an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, Shkreli found the statement insulting, saying, "If I hand you $2 million, f****** show me some respect. At least have the decency to say nothing or 'no comment.' "
The original sale contract for "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" stated that the buyer could not sell or attempt to make money off the record for 100 years, although the owner could release it to the public for free if so desired.
In addition to this stipulation, the contract also included the following clause: "The buying party also agrees that at any time during the stipulated 88 year period, the seller may legally plan and attempt to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, which, if successful, would return all ownership rights to the seller. Said heist or caper can only be undertaken by currently active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and/or actor Bill Murray, with no legal repercussions."
It's unclear whether these terms still apply.
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Cite this: Feds Sell Wu-Tang Clan Album Forfeited by 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli - Medscape - Jul 28, 2021.