The United States has sold the only physical copy ever made of the Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” after federal authorities seized it from former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of fraud in 2017.
The Justice Department did not disclose who bought the album or how much they paid for it, however, citing a confidentiality provision included in the sale.
But the DOJ said the money from the album’s sale would go toward the remaining balance owed on the approximately $7.4 million forfeiture order entered against Shkreli at his March 2018 sentencing.
“Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself,” Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting US attorney, said in a press release Tuesday.
The album includes a hand-carved nickel-silver box, along with a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. When Shkreli purchased the album in 2015, it was marketed as “both a work of art and an audio artifact,” says the release.
By releasing only one copy of the album, the legendary hip-hop group wanted to “put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music,” Wu-Tang member Robert “RZA” Diggs told Forbes in 2014.
The group planned to put the album on display as an exhibit before putting it up for auction. In 2015, Shkreli reportedly bought the album for about $2 million.
Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy in 2017 for defrauding investors out of more than $10 million between 2009 and 2014. In 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $750,000 fine, on top of the $7.4 million forfeiture.
Before his conviction, which was related to his time as CEO of biotech company Retrophin, Shkreli was dubbed “the most hated man in America” in 2015 while serving as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals after he increased the price of an AIDS drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.