US government sells 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's one-off Wu-Tang Clan album

Prosecutors didn't say who bought 'Once Upon a Time In Shaolin' or how much they paid.

Carlo Allegri / reuters

Back in 2015, before NFTs really became A Thing, the Wu-Tang Clan sold the only copy of the album Once Upon a Time In Shaolin for a reported $2 million at auction. The buyer, it later turned out, was former pharmaceutical exec and convicted dirtbag Martin Shkreli.

Perhaps better known as Pharma Bro, Shkreli became infamous for buying and jacking up the price of life-saving AIDS medication Daraprim from $13.50 to $700 per pill. He was later convicted on securities fraud and securities fraud conspiracy charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. A forfeiture judgment of about $7.4 million was also made against Shkreli, and the government later seized assets to satisfy the judgment — including the album.

All of which brings us to today. The government has sold Once Upon a Time In Shaolin. Prosecutors didn't say who bought the album or how much they paid, but the sale covers the outstanding balance Shkreli owed the government.

So, after three years of being locked in a federal vault, and almost four years of being owned by the weaselly Shkreli (who tried to sell it on eBay before he was incarcerated), the album is once again in private ownership. Although snippets of the album have popped up online, you probably shouldn't expect it to hit Spotify any time soon, unfortunately.

One of the conditions for the auction sale was that the buyer couldn't use it for commercial purposes until 2103. It's unclear whether that stipulation is still in place, but Shkreli was allowed to play it at listening parties. Maybe the new proprietor of Once Upon a Time In Shaolin will feel generous enough to play it for Wu-Tang fans somewhere. Meanwhile, as is the way of things, Netflix is making a movie about the saga.