Earlier this month, Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of security fraud. Under the terms of his conviction, the disgraced pharmaceutical CEO was forced to forfeit his assets, which included Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album which Shkreli purchased in 2015 for $2 million. The fate of the rare record now rests in the hands of the Justice Department and indirectly under the purview of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Now, in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Wu-Tang leader RZA spoke about Once Upon a Time and Shkreli’s sentencing. In particular, he revealed that he’s attempted to buy back the album from the criminal pharmadouche. However, stipulations of the original contract, drawn up when Wu-Tang sold the record to Shkreli, forbade him from owning it.
“I’ve actually tried to get it back,” he explained, “but the paperwork and the contract stops me from getting it back. When [Shkreli] put it on eBay, the first thing I did was call my lawyer, and I was like, ‘Yo, let’s go.’ And they said, ‘All right, check with your contract.’ And it’s no, you can’t do it. Ain’t that a bitch?”
Other terms of their deal stated that Shkreli could not sell the album for 88 years and was only allowed to play it aloud for personal use. Shkreli once streamed the album online following a bet made involving Donald Trump’s election.
“It was hard for me to sell that album because I wanted it to be on my living room table,” RZA said of the LP, which he compared to the Mona Lisa. “The record has become an entity, very different from a lot of albums … It’s got its own folklore, and that’s what me and [co-producer] Cilvaringz wanted.”
Although he wasn’t able to get his hands on Once Upon a Time, RZA doesn’t sound too bitter about it. Actually, at the end of the day, he just wants the album to be able to retain its value, per the contract. “I would hope that the clauses that was given to Mr. Shkreli is upheld,” he said, “because it was a legal, binding thing and I would just hope that whatever happens, that legally, all the things that we thought to protect what it was and what it is remains intact.”
In related news, RZA announced new live-score screenings of the classic kung fu film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.