The new owner of Wu-Tang Clan’s unreleased album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has been revealed.
On Wednesday, a group called PleasrDAO announced that it has purchased the only existing copy from the U.S. government for $4 million. PleasrDAO, which consists of 70 members, describes itself as “a collective of artists, anons, crypto degens, cypherpunks, and visionaries.”
The 31-track album was seized from convicted pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, known as “Pharma Bro,” and sold in July to an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed amount. Proceeds from the sale went toward a $7.4 million forfeiture judgment that Shkreli was required to pay as a result of his securities fraud conviction in 2018.
Shkreli purchased Shaolin at auction in 2015 for a reported $2 million. The “unique work of art” came in a hand-carved nickel-silver box with a 174-page leather-bound book containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity.
“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 Chief Pleasing Officer, tells 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,” adds Johnson, whose previous purchases include NFTs connected to Edward Snowden and the Russian band Pussy Riot.
PleasrDAO aims to approach the album from the “polar opposite” direction of Shkreli, who once threatened to destroy the album and played some of it on a livestream against Wu-Tang’s wishes.
There are restrictions around the album’s use, but Johnson hopes that PleasrDAO can help it reach a wider audience. “We see ourselves as the Willy Wonka factory of NFTs,” he says. “We want to do crazy shit, and we want to have a really strong charitable component.”