Skip to main content

World’s rarest record? A one-off Wu-Tang album sells for millions at auction

worlds rarest album sells for millions at auction version 1449679921 wu tang clan
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.)

PMC MB2-XBD Speakers
PMC MB2-XBD Speakers Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.

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