When the Wu-Tang Clan chose to press a single copy of their latest album, they probably didn’t intend to sell it to a controversial pharmaceutical industry CEO who jacked up the price of HIV medication Daraprim. But now, the legendary hip-hop ensemble is hoping to make up for the sale.
Last year, the group announced that their next album, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," would be released as a special collectors’ item, complete with custom artwork and 174 pages of lyrics and song commentary. It was to be pressed only once and sold under the stipulation that it could not be resold. It was a controversial move among fans because of the single copy and the near-guarantee that it would sell for a high amount.
They were right: It was sold via a third-party auction in May, and according to a December 9 story from Bloomberg Businessweek, Martin Shkreli purchased it for nearly $2 million. Shkreli is best known as the controversial CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who made headlines in September when he raised the medication’s price from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill overnight.
Wu-Tang leader the RZA told Bloomberg Businessweek that "The sale of ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Shkreli’s business practices came to light." He added: "We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity."
Shkreli is a noted fan of indie and punk rock, and was a silent partner behind Brooklyn-based record label Collect Records. The label’s founder, musician Geoff Rickly, publicly denounced Shkreli and broke ties with him after the price-gouging controversy.