The one and only copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, an album by the Wu-Tang Clan purchased by former pharmaceutical executive-turned-convicted criminal Martin Shkreli, was listed for sale on eBay at a deep discount to the $2 million he paid for it.
The purported sale appeared on the digital marketplace late Tuesday evening. Its authenticity couldn’t be immediately verified and Shkreli’s lawyers declined to comment, but the sale was also noted on the Facebook page associated with Shkreli. On eBay, the ad includes his photograph holding the album along with a note including Tuesday’s date and the words “Selling WTC album.” The listing describes the album as “like new” and, at the time of publication, the bid price was $100,000.
The 34-year-old former pharmaceutical executive is notorious for raising the price of a potentially life-saving anti-parasitic prescription drug from $13.50 per pill to $750. Later, Shkreli stood trial on federal fraud charges, as authorities alleged he lied to hedge fund investors and siphoned money from one company to the fund. The so-called “Pharma Bro” was found guilty on three counts including securities fraud, and faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.
The eBay listing for the recording states “this is the one and only Wu-Tang album,” going on to say that Shkreli “decided to purchase this album as a gift to the Wu-Tang Clan for their tremendous musical output. Instead I received scorn from at least one of their (least-intelligent) members, and the world at large failed to see my purpose of putting a serious value behind music. I will be curious to see if the world values music nearly as much as I have.”
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The “scorn” the listing mentions may refer to a statement issued by Wu-Tang producer Robert Diggs, also known as RZA, to Bloomberg Businessweek in 2015: “The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
Shkreli was represented by the firm Brafman & Associates, PC and during the fraud trial asked a judge to cut his bail from $5 million to $2 million to free up assets. At the time, his attorney Benjamin Brafman said Shkreli owed funds to both civil attorneys and forensic accountants who were working on the fraud case and tax claims against him, respectively.
According to the eBay ad, proceeds from the sale of the album will be partially donated to medical research and won’t be used to fund Shkreli’s company. The listing doesn’t mention whether any of the proceeds will be used towards legal or accounting fees. Shkreli’s attorney, Brafman, declined to comment on the sale of the Wu-Tang album. A representative for Wu-Tang said it is aware of Shkreli’s listing and did not immediately provide further comment.
The album itself contains 31 songs, skits, and stories over 128 minutes to create a “retrospective soundscape,” according to a release hyping the initial auction in 2015. Few people have been allowed to listen to it. Before its sale to Shkreli, 36 fans were treated to a 13-minute excerpt at an event in New York. Shkreli leaked some tracks on a live stream to celebrate the election of President Donald Trump late last year. He played a bit more of the album for viewers this month.
The winning bidder may never receive the album, the eBay listing warns, however: “At any time I may cancel this sale and I may even break this album in frustration.” If the sale is successful, the listing pledges that Shkreli would pay up to $25,000 in legal fees “to ensure the final purchase details are mutually agreeable.” In the question and answer section of the eBay ad, the seller said the buyer can’t release the album on iTunes or any such streaming services without the permission of the band.
According to the post on eBay, Shkreli says he hasn’t “carefully listened” to Shaolin.