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U.S. sells one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album owned by Martin Shkreli to pay off his debt

The record's purchase contract with the Justice Department included a "confidentiality provision," shrouding the identity of the buyer and the amount paid.
Martin Shkreli departs after a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 26, 2017.
Martin Shkreli departs after a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 26, 2017.Lucas Jackson / Reuters file

The government has sold the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album previously owned by former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli to pay off his debts.

Shkreli, dubbed the "Pharma Bro," was ordered to forfeit $7.3 million in assets after he was convicted of securities fraud in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison. His forfeited assets included the only copy of the "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" album, which he bought for $2 million.

The 31-track Wu-Tang Clan album is held in a hand-carved nickel-silver box, along with a 174-page leather-bound manuscript "printed on gilded Fedrigoni Marina parchment."

The U.S. has sold the one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album forfeited by former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli to cover the cost of his debt.U.S. Justice Deparment

Proceeds from the album sale by the Justice Department will go toward Shrekli's debt, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern New York. The record's purchase contract included a "confidentiality provision" that shrouds the identity of the buyer and amount of the sale.

"With today's sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete," acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said.

When Shkreli bought the album in 2015, the sale's contract provisions barred him from using it for "commercial" purposes for 88 years. Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, according to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Shkreli had already earned a negative reputation when he increased the cost of a lifesaving AIDS drug by about 5,000 percent when he was revealed as the album's buyer. His company bought the rights to the drug Daraprim from Impax Laboratories for $55 million and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

He later agreed to cut the price by 50 percent, to about $375 per pill, after intense public scrutiny.

Shkreli revealed snippets of the album in a now-deleted Periscope livestream posted on Twitter in 2016, fulfilling a promise he had made to reveal some of his music collection if a Republican won the presidential election.

CORRECTION (July 27, 2021, 6:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when Martin Shkreli was convicted. He was convicted in 2017, not 2018.