Federal authorities have sold pharma bro Martin Shkreli’s one of a kind Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. According to a Justice Department press release, the feds will use proceeds from the sale to satisfy the restitution Shkreli owes following a 2017 judgment in which he was convicted of two counts of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy.
Whether the money made on the sale will go into a federal law enforcement slush fund or to Shkreli's victims was not made clear in the release.
“Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself. With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis said in the release.
Shkreli became the focus of the world’s attention in 2015 when he became the face of hedge funds and outlandish price hikes on prescription medication. As the former manager of hedge funds MSMB Capital Management LP and MSMB Healthcare Management LP and the former chief executive officer of Retrophin Inc, Shkreli bumped the price of life-saving drugs and made millions in the process.
Unlike other hedge-fund managers and avatars of American capital, Shkreli reveled in his infamy, playing the supervillain online and enjoying the hatred he received. In 2015, Wu-Tang announced it was working on a new album and would only sell one copy to the highest bidder. Shkreli bought the album and sat on it.
“At the time Shkreli purchased the Album in 2015, it was marketed as ‘both a work of art and an audio artifact,’” the release from Justice said. “The Album includes a hand-carved nickel-silver box as well as a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. The Album is subject to various restrictions, including those relating to the duplication of its sound recordings. In September 2017, just weeks after his conviction but before the district court-imposed forfeiture, Shkreli attempted to sell the Album through an on-line auction.”
The feds finally caught up to Shkreli in 2017 and sentenced him to pay $7.4 million in restitution through asset forfeiture and spend seven years in prison; during this time he seduced a journalist tasked with covering him and promoted his brand as an evil supervillain.
This album sale is part of the mandated restitution; Justice did not confirm the price at which it sold or who it sold the album to, citing a confidentiality provision in a contract it entered into that it claims makes it impossible to tell the public with whom it did business, and on what terms.