Martin Shkreli, who weeks ago was released on bail while awaiting sentencing, is going back to jail. This time for offering a $5,000 bounty for a strand of Hilary Clinton’s hair. Not, however, for what many consider his bigger crime: increasing the price of a drug used for curing infectious diseases by 5000%. That’s just borderline capitalism, which is a-okay in our current political climate.
But I digress.
Shkreli also happens to own one of the rarest albums on the planet: The Wu-Tang Clan‘s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. According to a 2014 interview in Forbes, RZA, one of the Wu-Tang’s founding members and album’s co-producer, likened Once Upon a Time to a rare collector’s item. “Like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.” Only one copy of the album was made. And no one, besides its eventual owner, could hear its contents.
One year later, in a private auction, Shkreli bought it for $2 Million.
In August of this year, Shkreli was convicted for defrauding investors in two different hedge funds (the medical communities equivalent of going to jail for selling sports memorabilia in Las Vegas.) Last month, perhaps to recoup legal bills, he put Once Upon a Time in Shaolin up on eBay for 1/10th its original price.
However, last night a new wrinkle emerged in the saga of this mythical Wu-Tang album. In an article published by Bloomberg, “representatives” of the group dismissed the record as part of the Wu-Tang discography. James Ellis, Method Man’s Manager, clarified that his clients involvement was for a solo project by Cilvaringz, not a Wu-Tang record. “How it became a Wu-Tang album from there? We have no knowledge of that,” he told Bloomberg.
Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, started work on the album in the late 2000s. The process took longer than expected. “After five years, I’m sitting here and I’m like, ‘Am I really going to release this record and see it die after a week?’,” he told Forbes in 2014.
“It’s not an authorized Wu-Tang Clan album,” says Domingo Neris, manager of U-God. “It never was.” Other members of the Wu share similar sentiments according to the Bloomberg article. The popular theory is that Cilvaringz began the project as a love-letter to The Wu-Tang and later sought the endorsement of RZA to boost its value.
In 2015, while launching the auction for the original record, RZA explained that Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was intentionally produced with other members of the Wu-Tang in the dark. Once the limited-edition concept was settled upon, the project was pitched to the group. “Everybody agreed that this was a very unique idea,” he explained. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Which brings us back to our jailbird Pharmabro. Either Shkreli purchased the world’s most expensive Wu-Tang mashup album. Or, select members of The Wu-Tang Clan are having second thoughts about having their work associated with an asshole who raises the price of medication by 5000-fucking-percent, while also defrauding hedge fund investors.
Either way, one thing is clear: Martin Shkreli disrespected The Wu-Tang Clan.