Former pharmaceuticals executive, convicted fraudster, enemy of spellcheck, and online troll Martin Shkreli appears to be selling the sole copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album he famously purchased for a reported $2 million in 2015. And in true Pharma Bro fashion, the album isn’t being sold through some fancy auction house, but via eBay.
The hip-hop legends in Wu-Tang only made a single copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, making it available through a 2015 auction and leaving it up to the highest bidder to decide what to do with their purchase.
The eBay listing, ascribed to seller martishkrel_7, appeared online late Tuesday night, and claims to be the “one and only Wu-Tang album.”
“I decided to purchase this album as a gift to the Wu-Tang Clan for their tremendous musical output,” writes the seller. “Instead I received scorn from at least one of their (least-intelligent) members, and the world at large failed to see my purpose of putting a serious value behind music. I will be curious to see if the world values music nearly as much as I have. I have donated to many rock bands and rappers over the years to ensure they can continue to produce their art when few others would.”
The seller dangles the possibility that he can cancel the auction at any time he wants and that he might even “break this album in frustration.”
He promises in the listing to donate half of the money to medical research. In a series of answers to users’ questions, the seller says that this half will go to “OHSU for rare disease drug research. I know a great researcher there very well who will make terrific use of the funds.”
As of right now, the highest bid for the album is around $108,000.
Though the listing says the seller is not making the sale to raise cash, there is no mention of whether or not any of the remaining half of what he brings in will go to cover legal costs.
Reps for Wu-Tang tell Bloomberg that the group is aware of the eBay auction.
While Shkreli owns the only copy of Once Upon…, he does not control the copyright of the music contained on the CD. In fact, he’s contractually blocked from commercial use of the songs for another 86 years. He is allowed to publicly play limited portions of the album. In 2016, he played what he claimed were selections from the album to celebrate the election of Donald Trump. More recently, following his conviction on two counts of securities fraud, he live-streamed an interview with an Associated Press reporter. That discussion included several minutes from the Wu-Tang album.
It was Shkreli — the CEO who was thrust into the spotlight when his former company Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the lifesaving drg Daraprim and then jacked up the price more than 5,000% overnight — who later confirmed that he’d paid $2 million for the album.
At the time of the original auction, the many, many members of Wu-Tang said they knew nothing about Shkreli or his business practices. The group has subsequently said that it used some of the funds from the sale to benefit charities.
In recent years, Shkreli has been arrested, charged, and convicted on securities fraud charges. He also made a mockery of a 2016 congressional subcommittee hearing by pleading the Fifth Amendment to all questions, including ones about his purchase of the Wu-Tang album.