Music Updates

US Government Sells One-Off Wu-Tang Clan Album to Cover Martin Shkreli’s Debt

In a statement, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said that after the album sale, payment of Shkreli’s forfeiture judgment “is now complete.”

Shkreli, the founder and managing member of hedge funds MSMB Capital Management and MSMB Healthcare Management and former CEO of publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company Retrophin, was convicted in August 2017 of two counts of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy for defrauding investors in his hedge funds and manipulating the price and trading volume of Retrophin’s stock. In addition to the forfeiture judgment, he was ordered to pay approximately $388,000 in restitution and a $75,000 fine. Shkreli’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in July 2019.

Shkreli’s 2017 conviction also required him to forfeit another unreleased album he claimed to own, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V, as a substitute asset to pay off the judgment, reports Pitchfork.

Skhreli purchased Once Upon a Time in Shaolin at auction in 2015 for a reported $2 million. In 2018, Wu-Tang Clan member RZA said he had tried to purchase the album when Shkreli listed it on eBay just weeks after his conviction but that he was unable to do so due to a limitation in contracts that were signed during the initial sale. Earlier, RZA told Bloomberg that the group gave a “significant portion” of its proceeds from the album sale to charity after learning of Shkreli’s misdeeds.

The lone copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, produced by Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh with RZA and recorded over six years, came with a hand-carved silver-and-nickel-plated box and jewel case along with a 174-page leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics, credits and back stories on the production of each song as well as a certificate of authenticity. Under the initial deal with Shkreli, the businessman was required to wait 88 years to release the album to the public.

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