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Feds Sell Sole Copy Of Wu-Tang Clan Album Formerly Owned By 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli reportedly purchased the only copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” in 2015 for $2 million, but the album was later seized by the government as part of his sentence for defrauding investors. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Infamous White Collar Criminals

The United States government has sold a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album formerly owned by “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli.

The United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York announced the sale of the sole copy of the album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” Tuesday in a statement, saying the profits from the sale of the exclusive album would be used to help pay the financial judgment against the disgraced pharmaceutical executive.

Shkreli was ordered to pay $7.4 million as part of a forfeiture money judgement at his sentencing in March of 2018 after he was convicted of securities fraud and securities fraud conspiracy for orchestrating a series of schemes to defraud investors, prosecutors said.

“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,” said Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete.”

Martin Shkreli Wu Tang Clan

The sale price and buyer of the album has been kept confidential.

Shkreli’s attorney Brianne E. Murphy told The New York Times that although she had no information about the sales price, she believed it was likely more than $2.2 million since that was the outstanding amount of money her client still owed on the judgment in April.

Shkreli—who had appropriately been a fan of the Wu-Tang song C.R.E.A.M. which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”—reportedly purchased the album for $2 million in 2015 after a secretive bidding war to buy the 31-track album, according to Bloomberg.

The sole copy of the album also came with an intricately hand-carved box and leather-bound book with lyrics and background on each of the songs.

Wu Tang Clan Once Upon A Time In Shaolin Us Marshals

The deal closed the same month Shkreli became a hated symbol of greed across America for raising the price of the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim, owned by his company Turing Pharmaceuticals, by more than 5,000% overnight. The move earned the ire of both then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who called the move “outrageous” and Republican opponent Donald Trump, who referred to Shkreli as a “spoiled brat.”

Wu-Tang Clan’s leader, Robert Diggs, known as RZA, said at the time that the sale of the album had already been completed when Shkreli’s “business practices came to light,” Bloomberg reported in 2015.

“We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity,” he said after the sale.

This time around, a source told The New York Times that the new owner is reportedly a group of people or a company instead of one person.

The buyer was represented by attorney Peter Scoolidge who called the purchase in a statement the “most interesting deal I have ever worked on.”

Scoolidge declined to provide specific details about the album’s new owner to the news outlet, but said he had the opportunity to listen to the album during the negotiations and called it “a banger.”

Oxygen.com reached out to Scoolidge but did not receive an immediate response.

The new owner will be forced to abide by the same restrictions put in place in the original contract, which prevents the owner from releasing it commercially for a period of 88 years.

The judge seized the album and other “substitute assets” from Shkreli in 2018 to satisfy the $7.4 million forfeiture judgment against him. He was also ordered to pay approximately $388,000 in restitution and a $75,000 fine, prosecutors said.

Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison and a subsequent three years of probation after he was convicted of defrauding investors and manipulating the price and trading volume of stock of his former company, Retrophin, Inc.

Murphy said Shkreli was “pleased with the sales price” the government received for the album, considered both a work of art and audio artifact.

Prosecutors said Shkreli had tried to sell the album himself in 2017 through an online auction after his conviction but before the court-imposed forfeiture.