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NFT group bought Wu-Tang’s single copy album for $4 million

By | Published on Friday 22 October 2021

Wu-Tang Clan

Back in July, the US government sold the single physical copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ album, which it had seized from previous owner Martin Shkreli. And, at that very moment, we all wondered who’d bought it, didn’t we? Even if only briefly. Like, for five seconds, maybe. But five seconds of wondering nevertheless. Well, wonder no more! Or start wondering again and then stop. Because we now know it’s owned by a group of those amusing NFT collectors.

Controversial hedge fund manager Shkreli, of course, purchased the only copy ever made available of the Wu-Tang album for $2 million in 2015. It then became part of the whole saga that is Shkreli’s life, including his 2017 conviction for fraud, which saw him banged up for seven years and ordered to hand over $7.4 million. Shkreli only had a mere $5 million in his bank account, so authorities seized various other assets to make up the shortfall, including the Wu-Tang CD.

In July, the US government announced that it had not only sold the disc, but also that in doing so it had cleared Shrekli’s outstanding debts. Exactly how much was raised and who had bought it was not disclosed, however. Until now. Because a collective of NFT collectors called PleasrDAO has revealed that it purchased the record for $4 million – double what Shkreli originally paid for it.

Sounding somewhat more benevolent than the album’s previous owner, Pleasr describes itself as “a collective of DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists who have built a formidable yet benevolent reputation for acquiring culturally significant pieces with a charitable twist”.

As well as buying up NFTs, Pleasr also sells them, with its specialism being selling more affordable shares in a piece of digital art, rather than an item having one single owner.

You’ve probably noticed by now that ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ is not, in fact, an NFT. It’s an actual physical thing that someone can actually physically own. And if NFTs were actual physical items, Pleasr would now merely possess a screwed up piece of paper in a bin somewhere saying, “Hey, if anyone asks, you totally own this. Just don’t try to touch it or do anything with it, OK?”

But no, with Pleasr in actual possession of Wu Tang’s compact disc and its lavish case, they can do whatever they want with it. And what they want to do with it, seemingly, is to use it to create a load of NFTs. See? It all comes round in the end.

“We want this to be us bringing this back to the people”, Jamis Johnson, Pleasr’s Chief Pleasing Officer (yes), tells Rolling Stone. “We want fans to participate in this album at some level”.

Of course, when I said that – by being in actual possession of the compact disc and its lavish case – Pleasr can do whatever they want with the Wu Tang album, I wasn’t being totally honest. See, the disc comes with a contract that places numerous restrictions on what the owner can actually do with it. However, NFTs weren’t a thing when that contract was drawn up, which may mean that Pleasr can get on with selling off shares in the album while still actually owning the album itself.

In a blog post Johnson says: “We believe the next chapter in the incredible story of this album should be Web 3.0 native. Although we are bound by the legal agreement underpinning this work of art and may not be able to duplicate and share the music digitally, we firmly believe there are ways to share this musical masterpiece with the world”.

Exactly how they’ll divide up a $4 million album into pieces that are affordable but still seem exclusive and cool is unclear. Earlier this year, Pleasr purchased the original Doge meme as an NFT for $5.5 million. It then split it into 16,969,696,969 shares, selling off 20% of those at auction last month.

“A lot of things in life are temporary, fleeting, impermanent”, concludes Johnson. “But remember this – just like our blockchain, Wu Tang is forever”.

If you’re still a little confused about all of this, Pleasr have made a video showing them acquiring the album, which will leave you none the wiser, but is quite fun anyway: