It’s official: “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” by the Wu-Tang Clan has been sold by the United States government. An announcement from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York made it official that the album was sold to an anonymous buyer. The album had previously been purchased by one Martin Shkreli for a winning auction bid of $2-million USD. The album was seized by the government after Shkreli’s arrest and sold after convictions on counts of fraud in Shkreli’s associated pharmaceuticals company Retrophin.
The original auction win for the album took place in the year 2015. The entire package and experience stabbed a point of interest in the history of modern art and music. Since then, the legacy of the album and the contents of the package have become extra notorious, courtesy of the buyer.
The album’s sale price and the identity of the buyer are confidential. The confidentiality of the buyer and the sale price are included in the contract of sale. This also includes all information “relating to the buyer and price.”
The closest we can get at the moment to confirmation of the sale price is the fact that the album was “a substitute asset in connection with the approximately $7.4 million forfeiture money judgment (Forfeiture Money Judgment) entered against Shkreli at his March 2018 sentencing.” The sale price will be used to “satisfy the outstanding balance owed on the Forfeiture Money Judgment.”
The announcement by the Justice Department included confirmation that the album is still “subject to various restrictions, including those relating to the duplication of its sound recordings.” It remains unknown to the public whether the tracks from the album and the rest of the contents of the package will ever be made available for all to hear and see.
It was suggested at the sale of the album in the original auction that the contents of the album must remain private for 88 years after initial sale. If and when we find the buyer of the album AND they’re willing to go public with the purchase, we’ll let you know!