A 1-of-a-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album Was Bought by a Felon for $2 Million

When news came out about a single copy album being dropped by none other than Wu-Tang Clan, fans were chomping at the bits to hear the exclusive content. The rap group has made an influential name for themselves in the music industry over the past 30 years, with songs like “Protect Ya Neck,” “C.R.E.A.M,” “Gold,” and many more.

With a history of harnessing their own dynamic and fostering their own language, it was only a matter of time before they rocked the industry with futuristic thinking once again. This time in the form of a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that made it into the hands of a future felon for a whopping $2 million.

Members of the Wu-Tang Clan pose for a photo
The Wu-Tang Clan | Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Wu-Tang Clan sold a 1-of-kind record at an auction

Wu-Tang Clan dropped their single copy album on March 26th, 2014. According to an interview with Forbes that was reported by Scluzay, the exclusive release of their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin came in response to “music [being] economically and experientially devalued in a world of superficial streaming and data consumption.”

It seemed unfair for many fans at first as the media continuously defined their motives to be aligned with making more money. However, Cilvaringz told Forbes, “It was never a simple money-making scheme as the press made it to be.”

In fact, the Wu-Tang Clan member explains that the idea was actually more aligned with his own experiences with some inspiration from the Renaissance age.

“The idea to do a single copy album conceptualized itself on a variety of factors, such as my career, experiences, debates, a shifting industry, and more,” Cilvaringz said. He continues,

“[The single copy concept] mostly drew inspiration from musical patronage in the Renaissance age and was intended to inspire profound debates and reflection on how we value, experience and define music in today’s world.”

Martin Shkreli bought the album for $2 million

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Although big names like Joe Rogan were interested in purchasing Wu-Tang Clan’s exclusive album, it was a man named Martin Shkreli who got his hands on it for $2 million.

A “successful” CEO who counts his blessings by the amount of money he makes over positive contributions to society, Shkreli is despised by many.

Success cost this CEO any chance of getting into the public’s good graces after his company (Turing Pharmaceuticals) bought the rights to produce Daraprim.

Despite how much of a difference this drug would make for people with weak immune systems — like infants, the elderly, and AIDS patients — Shkreli hiked the price from $13 to $750 per pill! Understandably, people were instantly enraged with his greed and heartless behavior. 

According to Hot New Hip Hop, RZA spoke on the matter after fans were hurt that “Wu-Tang would allow [such an] asshole to buy their single copy album as though they’re giving him co-sign, or approval.”

RZA explains that the transaction happened before he knew much about Shkreli’s reputation. Still, he can’t discriminate between “the most greatest person” or his “enemy” possessing his album they got from the auction.

Martin Shkreli was forced to serve jail time and return the Wu-Tang Clan record

RELATED: The RZA Looks Back On The Beginning Of Wu-Tang Clan

To the joy of most (if not everyone), news came out that shortly after obtaining the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan record, Shkreli was arrested on securities fraud charges. Even better, the exclusive album was seized by the federal court. 

The Guardian reports that Shkreli lied to investors about where their money was being spent, resulting in a seven-year sentencing in federal prison. Included in the assets seized by the federal court was the Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album, “a Picasso painting, and another rap record, the unreleased Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V.”

It seems money can’t buy Shkreli everything anymore, including his freedom. It just goes to show, when you put so much “bad” into the world, it’s only a matter of time before it will catch up with you.