Ever since legendary rap group Wu-Tang Clan announced that their next album would be a one of a kind, million dollar record titled Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, the Internet has been awash with rumors as to who would be the lucky owner.
It was one of most unique business pitches that the music industry had ever witnessed. Way back in March 2014, Robert Diggs, better known as RZA, the producer and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, announced that the Clan would produce only one copy of their next album. Their motive was to sell it to the highest bidder.
"We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music, we’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king."
RZA - Forbes
Paddle8 were chosen as the online auction house in charge of selling the piece of art. Consisting of 31-tracks, all surviving members of the group contributed to Once Upon A Night In Shaolin. The album itself would come in a hand-carved box, accompanied by a leather-bound book with 174 pages of parchment paper filled with lyrics and a certificate of authenticity.
Last month, Billboard reported that the album had been sold for a multi million dollar price. Long time fan, and a man capable of spending that much dough, Quentin Tarantino became the fore runner as the most likely recipient.
However... Bloomberg Business profiled the buyer, and it's miserable reading for any Wu-Tang Clan fan.
Unfortunately, Wu-Tang Clan opted to sell the world's most exclusive album to Martin Shkreli, a.k.a, the CEO who upped the price of AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill.
"Shkreli heard about Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and thought it would be nice to own, too. He attended a private listening session at the Standard Hotel hosted by Paddle8 co-founder Alexander Gilkes. Shkreli, who describes himself as a bit of a recluse, recalls Gilkes telling him that if he bought the record, he would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities and rappers who would want to hear it. 'Then I really became convinced that I should be the buyer,' Shkreli says. (Paddle8 declined to comment, citing their policy of client confidentiality.) He also got to have lunch with RZA. 'We didn’t have a ton in common,' Shkreli says. 'I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him.'”
Worst of all, Shkreli hasn't even bothered to listen to the album yet.
To add salt to the wounds of long time Wu-Tang fans, Shkreli revealed that nothing could sway him into listening to the album. Unless, of course, Taylor Swift happens to be a fan of the group...
"He hasn’t listened to Once Upon a Time in Shaolin yet. He’s saving that for a time when he’s feeling low and needs something to lift his spirits. 'I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that,' Shkreli says. 'But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.'
This isn't the first time that Shkreli has bought pieces of musical history
The pharmaceuticals CEO purchased Kurt Cobain’s Visa card in a separate Paddle8 auction, reportedly whipping it out to impress colleagues and business partners when it's time to pay a check.
With money clearly no object, Shkreli wants more artists to make private albums for him, even getting Fetty Wap to perform for him and his employees in their own private concert.
"Typically you would say, ‘As an average fan, I can’t get Fetty Wap to give me a personal concert. The reality is, sure you could. You know, at the right price these guys basically will do anything."
It truly is a sad day for music. It seems extremely unlikely that the public will ever get a chance to listen to Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. The Clan initially wanted to insert a clause into the deal to prevent the owner from publicly releasing the album for 88 years, but instead opted to grant the buyer total freedom as long as the album wasn’t sold commercially.
Of course, this does still mean that if the owner so wanted, he could release it onto the Internet for free... Come on Shkreli, that could be the redeeming factor to save you some face!