U.S. Justice Department Sells Martin Shkreli-Owned Wu-Tang Clan Album to Collect on Debts Owed

Image: United States Marshals Service

If you haven’t heard about former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli, here’s a primer.

Now a convicted felon, Shkreli was the founder of Elea Capital, MSMB Capital Management, and MSMB Healthcare, and earned a negative reputation for increasing the cost of lifesaving drugs against the behest of those who were in need.

His company bought the rights to the Daraprim, a drug that treats a serious parasite infection (toxoplasmosis), from Impax Laboratories for $55 million and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. In 2017, Shkreli was charged and convicted in federal court on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud, and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

The “Pharma Bro” was ordered by the U.S. Justice Department to forfeit $7.3 million in assets, including the only copy of a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, which he bought for $2 million. At 31-tracks, the RZA-produced album was an example of hip-hop and art converging into a single point. Held in a hand-carved nickel-silver box, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin came with a 174-page leather-bound manuscript “printed on gilded Fedrigoni Marina parchment.”

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The proceeds from the album’s sale by the Justice Department will go toward Shrekli’s debt. The record’s purchase contract included a “confidentiality provision” that shrouds the identity of the buyer and the amount of the sale. “With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said.

Shkreli bought the album in 2015, where the sale’s contract provisions barred him from using it for “commercial” purposes for 88 years. Shkreli revealed snippets of the album in a now-deleted Periscope livestream posted on Twitter in 2016, fulfilling a promise he had made to reveal some of his music collection if a Republican won the presidential election. Upon learning of Shkreli’s existence and that it was the “worst human in the world” who bought the album, RZA told Bloomberg that the group decided to give “a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”

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