When Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli first bought the only copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,’ rumors circulated that there was a contractual clause that would allow for the RZA, GZA, Ghostface Killah and actor Bill Murray to steal the album back in some kind of Ocean’s 11 scheme. It turned out to be a joke, but now more than ever we need those unlikely bandits to plunder the rare Wu-Tang Clan album back. Before it’s destroyed forever.
While Shkreli is most infamous for being the pharma mogul who inflated the price of a medication by 5000%, he was ultimately arrested for securities fraud. In the fallout, the New York courts seized $7 million in assets from Shkreli’s surreal estate. Shkreli—young, rich and snarky—assembled an unusual collection of Picasso paintings, an advance copy of Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter V and a code-breaking World War 2 Enigma machine.
The most well-documented item in Shkreli’s collection is ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,’ a Wu-Tang Clan album recorded over the course of five years, starting in 2008. In the streaming era, physical copies of media seldom have a purpose, but only one copy of ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ exists and it was auctioned off in 2015. Shkreli had the winning bid of $2 million. Needless to say, it’s the most money ever spent on a single album. The album contains most of the Wu-Tang Clan, and two guest spots from Cher.
While the Bill Murray clause turned out to be a hoax, the existing stipulations around the album aren’t any less absurd. The album cannot be shared or released to other parties until the year 2103. It can’t even be played for listening parties. Shkreli, of course, didn’t obey these rules, and while he didn’t share the songs outright, he did stream portions, starting on the night of the 2016 election. He also threatened to destroy the album, though he’s not the one currently out to obliterate the record.
Believe it or not, come May 19 the fate of ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ will be decided by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice. According to Fader, the album could be auctioned off by the government or outright destroyed. Wu-Tang’s contract states that the album cannot be resold until 2103, but whether the government will respect those demands is to be seen. Someone ought to let Sessions know that the Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit.