Skip to main content

Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli indicted, questions raised about rare Wu-Tang album purchase

loathed ceo purchased worlds rarest album version 1449657537 wu tang clan
Scluzay
Updated on 12-17-15 by Parker Hall: Updated to reflect the fact that Martin Shkreli has now been indicted by the SEC for securities fraud.

A few weeks back, we reported that a Wu-Tang Clan album called Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, considered to be the rarest album in the world, was recently purchased by price-gouging pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Shkreli paid $2 million dollars at an auction by Paddle8 for the album. But where did the money actually come from? According to new reports, the Feds want to know.

The CEO and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, Shkreli became infamous for buying the manufacturing license for the generic AIDS drug Daraprim and unapologetically raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. The move outraged virtually the entire online community, putting Shkreli in the spotlight, and casting him as something of a villainous drug baron.

His alleged villainy may run even deeper than we thought, however: Shkreli has now been indicted for securities fraud for stealing stock from a company he was ousted from, Retrophin, Inc. In addition, lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s office reportedly said at a press conference that they are “not aware” of where the funds to purchase the priceless Wu-Tang album may have come from, according to a tweet from a New York Times reporter.

US Atty Capers on Shkreli & Wu-Tang: "We're not aware of where he got the funds that he raised to buy the Wu-Tang Clan album."

— Stephanie Clifford (@stephcliff) December 17, 2015

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin was a project conceived by Wu-Tang Clan producer Tarik “Civalringz” Azzougarth and recorded over the course of eight years. Only one physical copy of the record was made, and the purchase of the record came with a contract the bars the buyer from publicly releasing the material for 88 years.

A 31-track record that features all surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan and special guests, it is the most expensive single disc ever sold. The album came in a custom silver-plated jewelry box with a CD inside, as well as a pair of $55,000 custom Wu-Tang Clan-branded PMC MB2-XBD speakers on which to enjoy it.

The album was originally purchased anonymously in spring of this year, with details surrounding the sale not finalized until this fall.

The CEO confirmed that he was indeed the purchaser via Twitter, re-posting the Bloomberg article which first broke the news, along with a snarky remark aimed towards other Wu-TangClan fans.

If there is a curious gap in your favorite artist's discography, well, now you know why.

— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 9, 2015

This is not Shkreli’s first time purchasing extremely rare music memorabilia, having previously bought Kurt Cobain’s Visa card at another auction by Paddle8. The CEO reportedly uses the card as a parlor trick — pulling it out of his wallet to impress onlookers when purchasing meals and other items.

According to Shkreli, he hasn’t even listened to Once Upon A Time In Shaolin yet, saying in an interview, “I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that, but for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.” It appears to be raining for Shkreli now.

Though they did pen C.R.E.A.M. (“cash rules everything around me”), and ultimately did sell the record to Shkreli, the Wu-Tang Clan has its limits with regards to who they wish to do business with. In an emailed statement regarding the sale of the record, and the now-public identity of its purchaser, Wu-Tangfounding member RZA had this to say:

“The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”

So, despite the now-added publicity to a loathed (and now indicted) CEO, the sale of the world’s rarest record did do a little good. As for Shkreli’s indictment, we’ll be following this story as more details arise, so stay tuned.

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
The best laptops for music production, chosen by experts
best laptops for music production

The world has gone pretty far when it comes to the processing power that we carry around with us, and if you're big into music production, then you're the luckiest of all. Some of the best laptops on the market have high-end CPUs for relatively low prices, which means that if you want to do music production on a laptop, you have a huge number of choices. Of course, that does also mean that it can be hard to navigate and pick the best laptop for your budget and needs, which is why we've done the legwork for you. We've collected our favorite picks below in various categories so that you can pick them with ease. Plus, we've even thrown in a quick guide on what to look for so that if you don't find what you want here, you can check out these other laptop deals for alternatives.
The Best Laptops for Music Production

Best overall laptop for music production:
Best Windows device for music production:
Best portable laptop for music production:
Best large-screen laptop for music production:
Best for 2-in-1 laptop for music production:

Read more
The most common Spotify problems and how to fix them
How to fix common Spotify problems

At any given time, Spotify is probably the most popular music streaming service with countless listeners tuning in to songs, stand-up, podcasts, and even audiobooks. However, between an AI-driven DJ and clients for iOS, Android, and PC, a lot of things can go wrong with the entertainment system. And that's not even including problems with your iPhone or headphones.

To make sure you get to spend as much time as possible listening and as little time as possible sorting through errors, we're providing expert tips and tricks for the most common Spotify problems. Everything from the app simply not working to aspects of Spotify glitching out. Is your Spotify not working? Try these fixes and see if your problem gets better.

Read more
How to add family members to your Apple Music subscription
Apple Music Browse screen.

Apple Music is one of the go-to streaming services for all things melodic and melody-adjacent. Hosting over 88,000 million subscribers globally and featuring upwards of 100 million tracks from the leading artists of today, Spotify's nemesis has plenty to love.

If you're a new subscriber, Apple Music gives you a break-in period of one free months of service. After the trial period, memberships are billed on a monthly or yearly cycle with the most popular Individual plan coming it at $11 per month / $109 per year. While that's on par with the average cost for other music streamers, saving a buck here or there is never a bad thing. While college students can get Apple Music for $6/month, another way to save on your subscription is with an Apple Music family plan for $17 per month.

Read more