Martin Shkreli Must Forfeit The Only Copy Of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” LP
After previous speculation and deliberation, Martin Shkreli is finally going to have to turn over the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin as part of his forthcoming criminal sentence.
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ruled today (March 5) that in order to help pay off a $7.36 million forfeiture for securities fraud, Shkreli will have to give up several assets, including the Wu LP. Aside from the rare album (initially asked by RZA for its buyer to wait 88 years to release it to the public), Shkreli will have to cash in his E-Trade brokerage account, his stake in the drug company Vyera Pharmaceuticals, his reported copy of Lil Wayne’s unreleased Tha Carter V album, and a painting by Pablo Picasso.
The heat on Shkreli began when he purchased the anti-parasite drug Daraprim – which treats a parasitic condition primarily in people with HIV – and raised the price of it from $13.50 a pill to $750. At the time RZA, who along with Wu-Tang affiliate Cilvaringz – the orchestrator and producer of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, claimed they did not know of Shkreli’s shady business dealings prior to selling the album to him for a reported $2 million.
Last December, a large swath of the Wu-Tang Clan appeared on Drink Champs and described their involvement in making Once Upon A Time… Based on that testimony, it wasn’t as legendary an experience as those waiting to hear the LP were hoping.
“None of us never knew what was going on fully with how it was working,” Raekwon explained. “It was just an album that wasn’t an album. It was a formed album. It wasn’t like it was built to be an album.” In detailing further how the songs were recorded, The Chef detailed Cilvaringz’ role in putting the project together. “RZA’s students, we work with them. We like how they sound, and we did a lot of things with them on our own. So, when all that happened with the whole selling it thing, it was like the idea was great, but the politics was a little shaky.” This notion was also reinforced prior to the Wu Drink Champs podcast when Killarmy member Killa Sin made similar statements to Bloomberg about not recording specifically for Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.
Perhaps knowing this, or being aware of the damage Shkreli’s name has done to the monetary value of the album, his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, remarked during court proceedings that the album is “probably worthless.” That might be a major understatement though as a seven-figure bid was reportedly made to Shkreli for Once Upon A Time as recently as September 2017. The album, recorded in Marrakesh, Morocco, has been previously reported to contain Ol’ Dirty Bastard lyrics, as well as an appearance by Cher.
The Brooklyn, New York native Shkreli’s legal missteps haven’t been the only ones he’s made. At the beginning of 2016, he threatened to “erase” Ghostface Killah’s vocals from the album after engaging in an online feud with him. That followed a public retaliation to RZA’s Bloomberg interview during which he called out Shkreli for his unwillingness to be private about the album’s transaction, among other things.
Martin Shkreli was officially convicted last summer of duping a group of investors in two different hedge funds he ran, by misleading them about the financial performance of funds in which they invested. He was also convicted of stock manipulation fraud in connection with Retrophin, another drug company he founded. Evidence at his trial showed that Shkreli used cash and stock from Retrophin to pay back investors in his hedge funds for their steep losses.
Last year, Wu-Tang Clan released The Saga Continues with another affiliate, DJ Mathematics, producing the album. He used the same type of ASR 10 sampler that RZA used in creating 1993’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) release. Meanwhile, RZA oversaw the project as executive producer. It was later named as one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ “15 Best Rap Albums Of 2017.”
Last week, it was revealed that the reunited Clan will headline the 2018 Soundset Festival with Erykah Badu, Migos, Atmosphere, and others.