A one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that was seized by prosecutors from convicted “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli has been sold by the Justice Department for millions of dollars.
The single copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” was the only one ever made, and was bought by the business fraudster from the legendary rap group in 2015 for $2 million.
After sitting in a government warehouse since 2018, it has been offloaded to an undisclosed buyer to satisfy part of a $7.3 million forfeiture judgment against Shkreli, who is serving a seven-year sentence for security fraud.
It’s not yet known exactly how much the album sold for — but a filing the government made in April showed that Shkreli had $2.238 million left on his tab to the feds.
“With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced Tuesday.
She added: “Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself.”
The anonymous buyer of the album is being represented in the deal by New York-based attorney Peter Scoolidge.
“This was the most interesting deal I have ever worked on…I was in discussions with the government for over a year about this deal,” Scoolidge told us.
We’re told the buyer’s identity will be revealed within the next month or so.
The legendary rap crew confirmed the existence of the album in 2014 — but said they would only be making a single copy that they would sell with the condition that it could not be reproduced commercially for 88 years and only be played for small groups.
On Aug. 26, 2015, Shkreli won the album with a $2 million bid — making it the most expensive record ever sold.
Fans were less than impressed, however, that it went to Shkreli, the controversial former hedge fund manager-turned-biotechnology and pharmaceutical CEO.
Within a month of buying the album, Shkreli became the public face of the perceived greed of the pharma industry when he hiked the price of a drug used for life-threatening parasitic infections as much by 5,000 percent.
“It ended up in the hands of the evil villain,” RZA, the de-facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, last year told Yahoo!.
“You can’t write this. Life is unique, and that was definitely a unique moment for me in life.”
Shkreli had promised to release the album, which features Cilvaringz on production and a collaboration with Cher, if Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, but he eventually only streamed excerpts online.
In 2017, he was convicted of multiple counts related to securities fraud, sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay $7.4 million in fines.
In 2018, a federal court seized his assets, which also included a Picasso.
“That album has [taken] on a life of its own now,” said RZA, who is producing a Netflix documentary on the whole “Shaolin” saga. “The last I heard, it’s somewhere in the Department of Justice in a temperature-controlled room.”
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