The history of the Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is by all means, a unique one. If you’re not familiar with the name, then you’re probably familiar with the controversy surrounding it.
This is the record that the hip-hop group only made one copy of before putting it up for auction.
After that, the owner of the record would have the right to do what ever they wanted with it. As you may recall, the record was purchased by convinced felon Martin Shkreli, aka “Pharma Bro.” Funnily enough if you’re not familiar with that name, then you’re probably familiar with the controversy surrounding him. It’s that same controversy that has now moved the album from him, to the federal government, and into the hands of a new owner.
Shkreli is the fraudster who’s noteworthy for having drastically hiked up the cost of the drug tiopronin. This uncommon medical substance is used to treat the disease cystinuria- a rare syndrome which causes the amino acid cystine to appear in high concentrations within a person’s urine. This can cause it to crystalize and form painful and dangerous stones in the urinary system. But because it’s a rare disease and the drug is only really needed by the rare few with the disorder, Shkreli jacked the price of it up by twenty times the original price per pill. Oh, and he did the same thing with the AIDS medication Daraprim, except he shot that price up from $13.50 per pill, to $750.00.
His fondness for the public eye led to him eating up the limelight and spending his money lavishly. One of those items he spent his wealth on was the aforementioned Wu-Tang Clan album when it went up for auction. He purchased the record for $2 million, and has only released snippets of it for the public to listen to.
Karma and the criminal justice system being what it is though, investigations found that Shrkeli’s wealth had largely come from a Ponzi scheme-like approach to running businesses. He’d take one business, run it, leave it, open another one and use the initial investments into the new company to pay-off what was owed to investors from the previous business. So yeah, that wound up with a seven-year jail sentence for him and a bunch of debt.
At this point you can probably guess what one of the items seized by the feds to pay his debts was. If you said “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” then you’re right.
The album was forfeited into their possession and sold to an unnamed buyer for an unnamed price. It seems there’s a confidentiality agreement surrounding the details of the sail. But hey, at least Shrkeli doesn’t have the record anymore.
Of course with our luck, Jeff Bezos probably bought it and took it into space with him.