Social media rejoiced this Thursday when the FBI arrested Martin Shkreli on charges of securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. With the most widely hated pharmaceutical executive facing up to 20 years in prison if found guilty, the people of the internet had one very important question for the FBI:
What happened to the Wu-Tang album?
Before Shkreli became someone the BCC dubbed “the most hated man in America,” he was just known as a boy genius in pharmaceutical and Wall Street circles. So when the Wu-Tang Clan decided to put out a new album and auction off the only copy, they thought nothing of it when the highest bidder was Shkreli.
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is the name of the album that was auctioned off on the online startup, Paddle8. The album boasts 31-tracks that feature every remaining member of the Wu-Tang Clan and special guests like Cher, a hand-carved box, and a leather-bound book that is filled with lyrics and song backgrounds printed on the highest quality paper.
The Wu-Tang clan stored the album in a vault and destroyed all duplicates, including drafts. No one aside from the producers was able to hear the album in its entirety.
It was the group’s idea to put out something new, a collector’s album that could be used however the buyer saw fit. The only stipulation was that the owner could never commercially sell the item.
That wouldn’t prevent them from releasing the songs from the album for free, however.
Fans watched in suspense as the album was auctioned off to a private buyer. For a while, the buyer of the exclusive album remained anonymous as people speculated whether the music would ever be released publicly.
Once it was announced Martin Shkreli had placed the winning bid on Wu-Tang’s album, there was outrage throughout the internet.
Shkreli remained the smirking antagonist as criticism was thrust in his direction. As he shrugged off everyone’s opinion of his decision to raise the price of the anti-parasitic drug, Daraprim, he admitted to Bloomberg Business that his only concern was for how the Wu-Tang Clan might react. He was afraid they might back out of the album deal.
“I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal. 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.”
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions asked to FBI officials after Shkreli’s arrest, according to The New York Times, was: “what happened to the Wu-Tang album?”
FBI officials were not surprised to be questioned on the album. In fact, the United States Attorney, Robert L. Capers, expressed a certain amount of astonishment that the album hadn’t come up sooner.
“I wondered how long it was going to take to get to that,” Capers said during a press conference. “We’re not aware of where he got the funds that he raised to buy the Wu-Tang Clan album.”
The FBI didn’t give any further information about the fate of the album, but did later post to the FBI New York Twitter that they had no right to seize it.
#Breaking no seizure warrant at the arrest of Martin Shkreli today, which means we didn’t seize the Wu-Tang Clan album.
— FBI New York (@NewYorkFBI) December 17, 2015
A theory was brought up at the press conference that Shkreli instituted the 2,000 percent rise in price for Daraprim in order to pay back the investors he’s accused of defrauding. If that is the case, and any of that money was used in the purchasing of the Wu-Tang album, a warrant for seizure might be obtained by the FBI.
In the meantime, the Wu-Tang Clan and their producers have decided to take a page out of Bernie Sanders‘ book and donate the majority of the money they got from Shkreli, for the album, to charity.
[ Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images ]