The mythic Wu-Tang Clan album once purchased for an exorbitant sum by “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has finally been sold after being seized by the US government. According to the Justice Department, the sole copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin was sold off to pay off the $7.4 million forfeiture judgment against Shkreli for his 2018 conviction on securities fraud. A confidentiality provision in the sale contract protects information about the buyer and price.
The album first made waves in 2014 when it was announced that only one copy of the album would be auctioned off, incensing group members like Method Man. The album was purchased by Shkreli in 2015 with the caveat that it couldn’t be commercially exploited for nearly 100 years. When Shkreli was convicted in 2018 for SEC violations, he played the album while talking about it and tried to sell it on eBay to avoid forfeiting it as part of his sentence. When he was sentenced to seven years in prison, the government appropriated the project for the purpose of auctioning it off to pay his debts.
Of course, just because only one copy of the album exists and can’t be monetized for 100 years, doesn’t mean RZA won’t try to make some money off it anyway. In August 2020, the Wu-Tang leader reportedly began production on a film about the album’s convoluted existence for Netflix.