Martin Shkreli originally owned the one and only copy of Wu-Tang Clan album entitled “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”, but was turned over to the government who has now sold “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.”
A collective called PleasrDAO has paid an intermediary $4 million according to a New York Times article. Multiple parties, one of whom remains unidentified, PleasrDAO acquired “Once Upon a Time” after its sale in July by the federal government.
RZA was making a business and creative point when he created “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” seven years ago to protest against the devaluation of music in the digital era. That idea fell into the hands of a crafty business man known as Martin Shkreli who was known for price gouging in the pharmaceutical world. He would later be found to be a criminal that was charged for securities fraud. This is where the rare Wu-Tang album comes into play as the government seized the album to satisfy the balance of a $7.4 million forfeiture money judgment against Mr. Shkreli that was part of his sentencing in 2018.
Fast forward to 2021, in the time period of a newfound avenue for artists to preserve their work in the digital era through cryptocurrency, we see the album get another life. The government sold the original art by the Wu-Tang Clan for $4 million to upstart collective PleasrDAO. Despite being in its infancy in business, the company has a reputation already for securing top notch digital works.
At the time of the purchase of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” earlier this year, it was a deal with no public information given out about its details which included not knowing who bought the one copy. The information was confidential by the New York government officials. It has now been revealed that PleasrDAO acquired the album on Sept. 10 and is located somewhere in New York in a “vault” with plans on making the project available to the public. This could only occur if RZA and producer Cilvaringz are willing to make it happen.
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The project’s package contains 31 tracks on its two CDs and entails an engraved nickel-silver box and leaf through the leather-bound parchment book. The album comes with original restrictions that RZA and Cilvaringz agreed with Mr. Shkreli that the item cannot be released to the general public in any form until 2103 (88 years from its initial sale in 2015).
“The album itself is kind of the O.G. NFT,” said Mr. Johnson, 34, which is an accurate statement since NFTs (nonfungible tokens) that use blockchain technology was not around. It follows the same approach RZA wanted for “Once Upon a Time” in being something that was not duplicated and was something that was completely rare.
Despite having an item that is not suppose to be released for at least a few decades, the new owners believe they can still provide the project to the public much before the contracted date. “We believe that we can do something with this piece,” Mr. Johnson said, “to enable it to be shared and ideally owned in part by fans and anyone in the world.”