When the news broke that someone had finally purchased the Wu-Tang Clan’s fabled Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album for a few million dollars, thereby making it the most expensive album ever sold, that individual’s identity remained shrouded in mystery. Paddle8, the auction house that oversaw the sale, did not release the person’s name or winning bid, so speculation abounded as to who was now in possession of the vinyl equivalent of “the scepter of an Egyptian king.” Well, that mystery has just been solved by Bloomberg Business, which reports that the (unofficial) Asshole Of The Year, Martin Shkreli, has bought the unique album.
Shkreli, as you’ll undoubtedly recall, made headlines in September when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, purchased a drug used to treat parasites and other life-threatening infections only to hike the price virtually overnight. As CEO of Turing, Shkreli raised the price for Daraprim, which is often used to treat toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. Shkreli, insisted the decision was made to keep the company in business, and not, say, finance any ridiculously-expensive shopping habits. Shkreli has also claimed that, despite the 5,000 percent increase in cost, Daraprim is still more affordable than treatments for other diseases.
But before you get to wondering how the Wu-Tang Clan could agree to sell its one-of-a-kind album to such price-gouging scum, the sale was made all the way back in May, when Shkreli was just a garden-variety rich douchebag (we’ve lifted the moratorium on the use of that word). RZA emailed Bloomberg recently to clarify that the sale “was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Shrkeli’s [sic] business practices came to light.” He also stated that Wu-Tang would donate “a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
And what does Shkreli think of the album? It’s hard to say, because he hasn’t even listened to it yet. He told Bloomberg Business that although he was offered a chance to listen to a “few snippets” after winning the auction, he “delegated” the task to an employee. Despite showing little interest in the coveted record, Shkreli shared his desire to commission similarly singular works, because he believes other artists could use the money. He even offered some helpful instructions/inspiration: “ ‘Do your best work, however much time it takes, and never compromise anything for me. I just want to hear what you’ve got.’ ”