Last March the Wu-Tang Clan announced they would be releasing a new album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, but only ONE person would be able to purchase it. The album would be auctioned off, and the buyer would be the sole owner—the only catch would be that the owner could not sell it commercially. According to Bloomberg, here's how the idea took shape:
Initially, the Clan wanted to forbid the buyer from publicly releasing the album for 88 years, but over time decided to grant the buyer total freedom as long as the album wasn’t sold commercially. That meant the owner could listen to the record in a soundproof room, drive a pickup truck over it, or release it for free on the Internet. If the owner desired, he could be the only one who ever heard it. In an era where people are happy to stream music rather than actually possess it, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin offered a chance to own something truly unique.
At the time of the announcement, RZA told Forbes: “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king.” Sadly, RZA just handed the scepter to known d-bag Martin Shkreli.
Shkreli, who spent around $2 million for it, was just unmasked as the buyer by Bloomberg News. Earlier this year, he was called out for hiking up the price of HIV medication Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill, and became one of the most hated humans on the planet.
Bloomberg notes that RZA was trying to keep the buyer's name under wraps, but when he knew it was going public he emailed them this statement: “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.”
Poll suggestions: which artist should I now approach to buy my next private album from?
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 9, 2015
Shkreli has reportedly not listened to the album yet. He says he "could be convinced to listen to it if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that. But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day."
This morning, he put up a YouTube livestream where he's shown making a list of other albums he would like to prevent from coming out—"a record that I would pay the artist just to release just for me."