Feds want 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli to forfeit $2M Wu-Tang Clan album
The Wu-Tang Clan revolutionized hip-hop in the 90's, with their classic album Enter The 36 Chambers. Twenty-five years later, they're still a major part of pop culture. I mean, who can forget their appearance on Chappelle's Show? ("You need to diversify your bonds!"). And in 2015, they shocked the world by announcing they were releasing only one copy of their new album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.
The one-of-a-kind album was put up for auction, with one stipulation: whoever purchases it cannot release it commercially for 88 years - until the year 2103. Obviously, Wu-Tang fans were outraged. How could they make an album that their biggest fans would never live to hear? Are they selling out?
The RZA, Wu-Tang Clan's leader, insisted the one-copy-album isn't a publicity stunt - it's an artistic statement. "The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” the producer told Forbes magazine. “And yet it doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value . . . especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”
Despite the fury of Wu-Tang fans, the album was put up for auction, and who won? A celebrity Wu-Tang fan like Quentin Tarantino? No. American businessman, and price-gouging "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, one of the most hated people in the world. He bought Once Upon A Time In Shaolin for two million dollars.
To be fair to Wu-Tang, at the time of the auction, Shkreli wasn't famous. He was just a businessman. Then, shortly after the sale was completed, the news broke about his controversial price hike of the life-saving drug Daraprim.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis (a parasite infection), and to prevent toxoplasmosis in HIV patients. Shkreli's company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired Daraprim, and jacked the price up by 4,000 percent - from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. So, yeah. Not the nicest guy.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the price-gouging that got the "Pharma Bro" in trouble with the feds. It was the fraud. Last August, Shkreli, 34, was convicted on two counts of securities fraud and one count to commit conspiracy fraud. At long last, justice was served.
After the conviction, Shkreli put Once Upon A Time On Shaolin for sale on eBay. The bids shot up to one million dollars, and Wu-Tang Clan fans got excited again. Would they finally be able to hear this mysterious album? Unfortunately, the auction was cut short. Shkreli posted a Facebook message telling his followers to go to one of Hillary Clinton's book signings and steal one of her hairs. He later deleted the post, and said he was joking, but it was too late. A federal judge revoked his bail, and sent him to jail.
However, today, Wu-Tang Clan fans have new reason to hope. As a result of committing fraud, federal prosecutors are asking Shkreli for forfeiture of $7.3 million. In a statement, they said he should be forced to turn over these substitute assets: $5 million in cash, his shares of Turing Pharmaceuticals, an Enigma machine, a Picasso painting, the unreleased Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V, and the Wu-Tang Clan's Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.
Ben Brafman, Martin Shkreli's attorney, says he will "vigorously oppose the government motion." "None of the investors lost any money and Martin did not personally benefit from any of the counts of conviction," said Brafman. "Accordingly, forfeiture of any assets is not an appropriate remedy."
Will the feds get the album - and what happens to it if they do? We don't know yet, but hopefully it leaks one way or the other. You don't want to mess with The Wu-Tang Clan. They're nothing to f--k with.