I offer my deepest apologies to Wu-Tang fans. The buyer of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a record-slash-art-project of which only a single copy will ever be sold, is now owned by a huge douchebag. The millionaire buyer’s identity has been revealed as pill price gouger Martin Shkreli.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the pharmaceutical executive bought the latest Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million. (According to RZA a “significant portion of the proceeds go to charity.”) Shkreli apparently made his offer before the national outrage over his raising the price of Daraprim, a lifesaving medication for HIV patients, from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. Wu-Tang and Paddle8, the auction house that brokered the deal, understandably felt unnerved once it was revealed that the album’s buyer was actually a human cesspool who values profits over human lives.
“I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,” Shkreli told the magazine. “But by then we’d closed. The whole kind of thing since then has been just kind of ‘Well, do we want to announce it’s him? Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ I think they were trying to cover their butts a little bit.”
LOL? Again, news of the Daraprim controversy broke a little too late to derail Shkreli’s purchase of the mystical album that the public might never hear. It came after Shkreli had lunch with RZA. (“We didn’t have a ton in common,” Shkreli said of the meeting. “I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him.”) The one-of-a-kind record came in a hand-carved box along with a set of $50,000 speakers for listening. But guess what: Shkreli hasn’t listened to it yet.
“I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that,” said the 32-year-old supervillain. “But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.”
This, from the same guy who wants to buy dates with celebrities.
This guy. Then again, it’s sort of the perfect twist. Wu-Tang is legendary for turning our expectations of music and capitalism on its head. So what if the man who embodies the worst of what free markets can do owns a monopoly on the group’s latest and perhaps greatest work? At least it’s a hell of a saga.