How much did Wu-Tang sell for?

Answered by Edward Huber

Wu-Tang Clan’s album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was indeed sold by the US government in July last year. The sale came after the album was forfeited by Martin Shkreli, a figure notorious for his controversial actions in the pharmaceutical industry. Shkreli, often referred to as the ‘pharma bro,’ was once labeled America’s “most hated man” due to his business practices and public persona.

The unique aspect of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was that it was not just an ordinary album release. It was produced as a one-of-a-kind piece of art, with only a single copy ever produced. The album was housed in an intricately handcrafted silver and nickel box, designed to resemble an ancient artifact. The idea behind this approach was to treat the album as a valuable work of art, similar to a rare painting or sculpture.

In 2015, Martin Shkreli purchased the album for a reported $2 million. This purchase drew significant attention and controversy, as Shkreli was already a polarizing figure due to his actions as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli gained infamy for drastically increasing the price of a life-saving drug, prompting widespread criticism and public outrage.

However, the story didn’t end there. Following Shkreli’s conviction on securities fraud charges in 2017, the US government seized several of his assets, including Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. In July 2021, the album was sold through an online auction by the US government. While the exact sale price has not been publicly disclosed, estimations suggest it fetched around $4 million.

The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin marked a significant moment in music and art history. It highlighted the evolving landscape of music distribution and the intersection between art and commerce. The album’s sale also raised questions about the value of music as a physical object and the role of exclusivity in the art world.

It is worth noting that the Wu-Tang Clan members themselves did not profit significantly from the sale of the album. The group had previously stated that any proceeds from the album would be used for philanthropic purposes, such as supporting music education initiatives. The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin served as a reminder of the Wu-Tang Clan’s innovative approach to their art and their desire to push boundaries within the music industry.

Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album was sold by the US government for an estimated $4 million. The album’s unique nature and the controversies surrounding its previous owner, Martin Shkreli, contributed to its high-profile sale. The transaction shed light on the evolving relationship between music, art, and commerce, while also serving as a testament to the Wu-Tang Clan’s artistic vision and philanthropic efforts.