A Crypto Company Bought the One-of-a-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
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Photo Credit: Rashaad Patterson/Paddle8

Crypto company PleasrDAO bought Once Upon A Time In Shaolin for $4 million. The company is trying to find a way for the public to hear to it.

Back in July,  the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office announced that they sold the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.

At the time, the buyer and how much that person (or company) paid for the album was not revealed. That changed on Wednesday, October 20th, when it was revealed by the New York Times that a cryptocurrency collective known as PleasrDAO bought the album.

PleasrDAO bought the album for $4 million and took possession on September 10th. They are holding the album in a vault in New York City somewhere. It’s an interesting move for a crypto company to make, but according to PleasrDAO’s Jamis Johnson the move aligns with the company’s ethos of acquiring one-of-one of (mostly digital) items. In fact, Johnson made the comparison to non fungible tokens, saying, “The album itself is kind of the OG NFT.”

Making things more interesting is the fact that PleasrDAO turned the ownership deed of the album into an NFT and the 74 members who make up the company share ownership of the NFT deed. And one of the benefits of owning a piece of the album — even as an NFT — is that they can all listen to any of the 31 tracks on Once Upon A Time In Shaolin and look at the snazzy packaging.

The question that remains: when will the world get to listen to the album? The original agreement, which was between RZA and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, said the album couldn’t be released commercially for 88 years — so basically until 2103. (The album was originally sold to Shkreli in 2015 for $2 million). That agreement is still in place. PleasrDAO, however, is hoping that the two masterminds behind Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, RZA and dutch producer Cilvaringz, are willing to be flexible and allow the album to be played through listening parties or gallery-style exhibitions. (Think what Yasiin Bey did with his Negus album.)

“We believe that we can do something with this piece… to enable it to be shared and ideally owned in part by fans and anyone in the world,” Johnson told the New York Times. 

The story of the Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album is bonkers. The one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan LP was recorded over a six year stretch and hidden away in a secret Moroccan vault.It was then sold to Shkreli in 2015. A wealthy pharmaceutical businessman, Shkreli became infamous after the company he owned purchased the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim (which is often used to treat malaria and prolong the lives of HIV-positive patients) and raised its price from $13.50 per pill to $750.

In 2018, Shkreli forfeited the album to the US government after being sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud. (He also forfeited $5 million he had in cash in an E-Trade brokerage account; a stake in his drug company Vyera Pharmaceuticals; a Picasso painting; and an early version of Lil’ Wayne’s The Carter V album.)

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin allegedly features appearances from the entire Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, and Cher with production from Cilvaringz. The album is two CDs and held in a silver jewel-encrusted box with a wax Wu-Tang Clan seal and leather-bound liner notes.

 

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