Way back in 2015, pharmadouche-turned-real life villain Martin Shkreli purchased Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the one-of-a-kind album and seventh studio LP by Wu-Tang Clan. Shortly afterwards, his slimy hijinks landed him a seven-year prison sentence. That meant the prolific album was back up for grabs — or so we thought. In a new press release, the Department of Justice just revealed that the US Government quietly sold the rare Wu-Tang Clan record to someone else.
Shkreli originally paid $2 million for the rights to Wu-Tang Clan’s lone copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Once he was found guilty of fraud in 2017, Shkreli attempted to sell the record on eBay, but the album was eventually seized by the federal government as part of a $7.36 million assets forfeiture. Everyone, including RZA, tried to buy it back.
Apparently the government successfully sold the album and that money will now be “applied to satisfy the outstanding balance owed on the Forfeiture Money Judgment.” In a statement, Acting US Attorney Kasulis said, “Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself. With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete.”
So who is the lucky owner of such a rare and coveted album? Unfortunately, the world will never know. According to the Department of Justice’s press release, the contract of sale “contains a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.” So unless the new buyer chooses to reveal themselves in a public manner, there’s no way to know who’s spinning those rare hip-hop tracks.
It’s no wonder the government was so stoked to flip Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. If you don’t recall, Shkreli once threatened to destroy the album, swore he would erase Ghostface Killah from Wu-Tang Clan, and even broke the rules by playing Shaolin during a livestream following the 2016 election. Wu-Tang Clan regretted selling him the album so much that they even dropped a diss track about him.
This entire saga sounds like a fever dream from a modern dystopian novel, which explains why it’s already being turned into a movie. Last year, news broke that Netflix is working on a film adaptation of the real story, and they’ve already tapped Brittany Runs a Marathon director Paul Downs Colaizzo to helm the project. Wu-Tang’s own RZA is set to produce alongside Brad Pitt’s Plan B.
What’s Shkreli up to these days? Well, he’s still serving out the remainder of his seven-year prison sentence after losing an appeal. He tried to request an early release to help find a cure for COVID-19, but a judge swatted him away and denied him the opportunity.