The buyers of the Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, have been revealed as promised. PleasrDAO, a collective of self-declared “DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors, and digital artists,” with a penchant for “acquiring culturally significant pieces with a charitable twist.” The once-of-a-kind album, which was purchased by, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli in 2015 for $2 million, certainly qualifies. The album, created by RZA in secret over a six-year period, was auctioned off as a kind of high-art stunt after only being played for a handful of people.
Shkreli, of course, lost possession of the album when it was seized by the US government after his 2018 conviction for securities fraud and subsequently auctioned off earlier this year. At the time of the sale, the buyers in question remained anonymous, agreeing to confidentiality with regard to the ultimate sale price. Today, though, The New York Times revealed PleasrDAO as the anonymous buyer in a story documenting both that sale price, $4 million, and the collective’s reasoning and ultimate goals for the album.
It should come as no surprise that the endgame is to make the album available to fans in some way — with permission from RZA and producer Cilvaringz — which, given the group’s own self-description, will likely involve non-fungible token (NFT) blockchain technology. Jamis Johnson, the group’s “Chief Pleasing Officer,” according to Rolling Stone, explained, “This album at its inception was a kind of protest against rent-seeking middlemen, people who are taking a cut away from the artist. Crypto very much shares that same ethos. The album itself is kind of the O.G. NFT.”
PleasrDAO — which stands for “decentralized autonomous organization” — shares collective ownership among its 74 members and have Cilvaringz support to make the album more widely available through listening parties or gallery exhibitions, but for now, it remains bound to the terms of its original sale: It cannot be released to the general public or reproduced until 2103.