A noble cause
Back in 2015, RZA sold the one-of-a-kind Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album to Martin Shkreli. The ‘pharma bro’, known best for hiking the price of medication used by HIV/Aids patients, bought the Wu-Tang record for $2 million. Since Shkreli’s recent sentencing to seven years in prison for fraud, RZA has voiced how he has tried to nab it back.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the Wu-Tang co-founder says: “I definitely read every article about it. It’s kind of crazy. The record has become an entity, very different from a lot of albums. It's like the Mona Lisa. It's got its own folklore, and that's what me and (co-producer) Cilvaringz wanted.”
According toForbes, Shkreli was forced to forfeit millions in assets to the U.S government with his conviction, including the fabled LP. When he originally purchased the album, one of the major conditions of ownership was that it could not be sold for another 88 years and could not be played for anything other than personal use. Shkreli has played snippets of the album on live streams – once to celebrate Donald Trump.
“I’ve actually tried to get it back, but the paperwork and the contract stops me from getting it back.,” RZA explains in his interview. “When (Shkreli) put it on eBay, the first thing I did was call my lawyer, and I was like, ‘Yo, let’s go.’ And they said, ‘All right, check with your contract.’ And it’s no, you can’t do it. Ain’t that a bitch?”
The Wu-Tang Clan released diss track “Lesson Learn’d” last year.
The fate of the album now apparently lies with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, alongside a yet-to-be-released Lil Wayne record and a Picasso painting owned by Shkreli. Group members may have the opportunity to petition the fate of the record.