A one-of-a-kind 31-track double album by the Wu-Tang Clan has reportedly sold for millions of dollars at auction.
Called Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, the album was produced by Wu-Tang collaborator Tarik “Civalringz” Azzougarth and recorded over the course of eight years. The only physical copy in the world, the album comes with a contract that bars the buyer from publicly releaseing the songs for 88 years. The sale was carried out by online auction house Paddle8.
Though the buyer and specific price of the very special recordings remains anonymous, the auction house has confirmed that it sold to a private American collector for a price “in the millions,” according to Forbes. The sale occurred in May, but the contract wasn’t finalized until recently.
The buyer got a custom silver-plated jewel box with a CD of the album inside. Included with the box was a 174-page bound manuscript with credits, lyrics, and the story behind each of the 31 songs, and a custom Wu-Tang Clan pair of $55,000 PMC MB2-XBD speakers to listen to the record. (A stock version of the speakers is pictured below.)
RZA, a founding member of the famous Staten Island hip-hop group, has previously spoken about the groups reasoning behind the project, saying, “Owning a Picasso doesn’t mean you can sell prints or reproductions, but that you’re the sole owner of a unique original. And that’s what ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ is. It’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album.”
Whether or not the songs will be made public in the group’s lifetime remains to be seen, and probably comes down to if the group wishes to re-negotiate with the album’s new owner. In a recent interview with NME, rapper Raekwon voiced his thoughts on what should be done, saying, “I think at some point people do need to be able to hear it but you got to remember the concept of it was whatever it was, whoever buys it, it’s yours. You hang it up in your house and you do what you do.”
Previously, members of the group had stated they hoped the buyer would take the record on a tour of museums, providing fans an opportunity to hear it in public. That said, concerns about digital duplication of the songs may prevent that idea from ever becoming a reality.
One thing is for sure: One wealthy Wu-Tang fan is out there listening to some very expensive hip-hop.