The mythical, one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, was sold to infamous “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli for $2 million in 2015. But it wound up being seized by the federal government after Shkreli was convicted of three counts of fraud in August 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.
During a recent interview with Hot 97 co-hosts Ebro Darden, Peter Rosenberg and Laura Stylez, RZA expressed how much regret he felt when he realized the album ended up with someone like Shkreli.
“It was in the wrong hands,” RZA said matter-of-factly. “He made the deal before it was revealed of his character, of his personality, and all of the insidious things he would go on to do.”
In July, an anonymous buyer acquired the album, but their identity was concealed — that is until earlier this month. On October 20, the group behind the $4 million purchase was identified as PleasrDAO, “a collective of DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists who have built a formidable yet benevolent reputation for acquiring culturally significant pieces with a charitable twist,” according to its website.
RZA is optimistic their intentions are pure and will fall in line with some of the visions he had for the project, including museum installations and album listening experiences.
“[Those things] were not going to be able to happen with Mr. Shkreli,” he continued. “Now that PleasrDAO has it, there’s opportunity that a lot these beautiful ideas of what this art can be and how it could expand itself in the world and in its own life of itself. I think the possibilities are there now.”
While the album has always been packaged in an ornate silver box accompanied by a leather-bound booklet, it now has a digital component: an NFT deed of ownership.
“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” PleasrDAO’s Chief Pleasing Officer Jamis Johnson says. “We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.”