And Finally Artist News Releases

AIDS drug ‘price gouger’ revealed to be single-copy Wu-Tang album buyer

By | Published on Thursday 10 December 2015

Wu-Tang Clan

It has emerged that AIDS drug ‘price-gouger’ Martin Shkreli is the previously anonymous buyer of Wu-Tang Clan’s single-copy album ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’.

The hedge fund manager made headlines earlier this year after it was reported that he had bought the rights to Daraprim, a medication used in AIDS and cancer treatment, and increased the price by 5000%. After criticism, he announced that he would reduce the price, dropping the bulk purchase fee, though not that for individual pills.

And now, as I’m sure everyone will be pleased to know, he’s used some of his fortune to buy a Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million. The identity of the buyer had previously been kept a secret, though Shkreli was identified earlier this week in an article published by Bloomberg.

Shkreli has collected various pieces of music memorabilia, including Kurt Cobain’s credit card through Paddle8, the same auction house that sold the Wu-Tang album. Putting himself forward as a potential bidder before the Daraprim story broke, he was given a private listening session of the new Wu Tang record, which had only previously been showcased during one gallery-based listening event. “Then I really became convinced that I should be the buyer”, he told Bloomberg, leading to a lunch meeting with RZA. “We didn’t have a ton in common. I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him”.

The man who even Donald Trump has described as a “spoiled brat” became worried that the deal might fall through when he began to draw media attention for his drug price hike, but it all turned out fine. “I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal”, he said. “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”.

RZA denied that he and the group were aware of Shkreli’s business practices in a statement to Bloomberg, saying: “The sale of ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Shkreli’s business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity”.

It’s not the first time this year that Shkreli has made it into the music press. Following the news of his price increase on Daraprim, it emerged that he was a key investor in punk and hardcore label Collect Records, the company founded by Thursday frontman Geoff Rickley. This led to various bands threatening to leave the company, resulting in Rickley severing ties with Shkreli and the financial backing that had allowed the company to grow in recent years.

Meanwhile, Shkreli has said that he is yet to actually get the Wu-Tang album out of its box and playing. “I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that”, he told Bloomberg. “But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day”.

There may yet be a happier end to this story though. According to the Sabotage Times, Wu-Tang had a clause written into their contract with Shkreli permitting the album to be taken back via a “heist or caper” by either the group themselves or the actor Bill Murray.