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Crypto Collective Reveals Ownership of Legendary Wu-Tang Album 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin'

Wu-Tang may be forever, but the hip-hop collective's presumably mortal fans are still clinging on to hope that they won't have to wait that long to hear "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin."

The 31-track double album famously bought by the now-infamous “Pharma Bro” — hedge fund manager and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli —for $2 million in 2015 at auction, has a new owner.

The New York TImes reports crypto collective PleasrDAO took ownership of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" in early September in a "complex" $4 million deal involving the creation of an NFT through which the groups 74 members share ownership of the deed to the album. 

“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent-seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” Jamis Johnson, PleasrDAO’s 34-year-old Chief Pleasing Officer told Rolling Stone, "We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.”
Whether or not that participation includes listening to the album remains to be seen, but that may have a better chance of happening with PleasrDAO than with the album's previous two owners.

After Shkreli was convicted on two counts of security fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy in August 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison, the United States Government, which had seized it, sold the album to satisfy the remaining balance ($2.4 million) of the $7.4 million forfeiture order owed by 38-year-old Shkreli.

At the time acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, stated the sale of the one-of-a-kind album was at least enough to pay out what was owed, but no figures were released

“Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself. With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Kasulis said.

In 2015 "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" was marketed as “both a work of art and an audio artifact and that it includes a hand-carved nickel-silver box as well as a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. It also noted that “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" is subject to various restrictions, including those relating to the duplication of its sound recordings.

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