The secret owners of Martin Shkreli’s $2 million Wu Tang Clan album have been revealed.
The former hedge fund manager also known as the notorious “pharma-bro” is no longer in possession of the one-of-a-kind opus “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” after federal prosecutors sold it off when he was convicted of securities fraud and ordered to forfeit more than $7 million in assets.
Shkreli, who infamously raised the price of a lifesaving antimalarial drug by 5,000%, purchased the album by the Staten Island hip-hop greats for $2 million at an auction.
The U.S. government seized the music in 2018 after a jury found widely reviled Shkreli guilty the year before.
“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” was sold in July to a then-anonymous entity for $4 million.
Now, the two-disc, 31-track project ‘s new owner has been unmasked by Rolling Stone as the crypto-community PleasrDAO, a collective of over 74 members. The new sale reportedly came with an Non-Fungible Token instead of a physical ownership deed.
“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” PleasrDAO’s Chief Pleasing Officer Jamis Johnson told the outlet. “We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.”
The recently launched collective was reportedly founded less than a year ago, and has acquired a number of high-profile digital works, including NFTs by Edward Snowden and Pussy Riot.
PleasrDAO has aspirations to “take out six really cool spaces across the world and do exhibitions with it where 200 people come at a time.”
Only one physical copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” was ever produced and it placed in an ornate silver box before being stored in a secured vault in Morocco.
Wu-Tang’s mastermind, RZA, and producer, Cilvaringz, specified in the original sale that the music could not be publicly released for 88 years, until 2103.
To date, it is the most expensive album ever sold.
Shkreli is serving a seven-year prison term at a low-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
The 38-year-old Baruch College alum is due for release in late 2023.