U.S. Sells One-of-a-Kind Wu-Tang Album to Cover Martin Shkreli’s Debt
A one-of-a-kind album recorded by the Wu-Tang Clan and auctioned off to disgraced pharmaceutical executive and hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli was purchased by an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum of money, federal prosecutors who have seized said the album three years ago.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sale of the only known copy of the album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” in a press release Tuesday. The terms of the sale required the government to keep the purchase price and the buyer secret, but the sale satisfied the balance Mr. Shkreli owed the government, according to the press release.
The single album – more akin to a work of art than a standard record – was seized by the government in 2018 after a judge said it could be used to pay for part of the 7.36 million dollars that Mr. Shkreli owed.
Mr Shkreli’s attorney, Brianne E. Murphy, said she had no information on the buyer, but said she was happy that Mr Shkreli had satisfied his forfeiture balance and “was closing this chapter”.
In April, a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said in a court file that Mr. Shkreli still owed the government $ 2.2 million. Ms Murphy said on Tuesday that this suggested the album sold for that amount or more, but added that she had no actual knowledge of the actual selling price.
Mr. Shkreli rose to fame in 2015, when he increased the price of a drug used to treat a rare disease by 5,000% overnight through his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. The drug, Daraprim, has been used to treat a potentially fatal parasitic infection; the company’s actions have pushed the cost of annual treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars and highlighted the price hikes for generic drugs.
Instead of shrinking from the negative attention he received after the price hike, Mr Shkreli leaned into it, drawing near universal opprobrium. (Donald J. Trump, then presidential candidate, said, “He looks like a spoiled brat to me.”)
In December of the same year, Bloomberg Business reported that Mr. Shkreli had purchased the sought-after album at auction for $ 2 million.
The album, the hype around which in some ways foreshadowed the current craze for non-fungible tokens or NFTs, was made on the assumption that it would only be sold to one bidder.
By purchasing the album, the buyer took control of who would be allowed to listen to a record by one of the most famous rap groups in the history of the genre. (Faithful fans of the band often insist that the album is not really an unreleased Wu-Tang album but rather a compilation made by little-known producer Cilvaringz.)
In 2017, Mr. Shkreli was convicted of fraud in connection with two hedge funds he ran, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, as well as conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The following year, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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