Unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album up for auction; bids reach $1m

The infamous unreleased album, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, by rap icons the Wu-Tang Clan, is currently being auctioned on eBay, with bids already reaching the $1,000,000 mark.

The only existing copy of Once Upon a Time In Shaolin was put up for auction in 2015 and was purchased by the disgraced former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli. The only public airing of any music from the album was by Shkreli when he played some clips online after Donald Trump was elected as US President.

“This is the one and only Wu-Tang clan album,” Shkreli wrote on the eBay listing. “I decided to purchase this album as a gift to the Wu-Tang Clan for their tremendous musical output. Instead I received scorn from at least one of their (least-intelligent) members, and the world at large failed to see my purpose of putting a serious value behind music. I will be curious to see if the world values music nearly as much as I have. I have donated to many rock bands and rappers over the years to ensure they can continue to produce their art when few others would.”

“At any time I may cancel this sale and I may even break this album in frustration,” he adds. “I will donate half of the sale proceeds to medical research. I am not selling to raise cash – my companies and I have record amounts of cash on hand. I hope someone with a bigger heart for music can be found for this one-of-a-kind piece and makes it available for the world to hear.”

There is some debate as to whether or not the sale Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is legal, as there were a number of strict limitations put in place by the Wu-Tang Clan when the album was auctioned. According to the initial sale, a legal agreement with the purchaser states it cannot be commercially exploited until 2103, although it can be released for free or played during listening parties.

Shkreli responded to one user who questioned the sale, saying: “The sale is legally allowed. The buyer may not commercialise the work for 86 further years. The buyer may sell the CD to another buyer, however. The buyer may also release the music for free or play it publicly for free. I believe a public performance for a fee is also allowed. Legal documents will be provided to serious bidders.”

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