MUSIC

Martin Shkreli Releases Parts Of Rare Wu-Tang Clan Album

The despised pharma exec promised he’d release it if Trump won, and now we've crossed that bridge

MUSIC
Former pharmaceutical exec Martin Shkreli — AFP/Getty Images
Nov 09, 2016 at 2:20 PM ET

One unexpected boon of Trump’s smash and grab of the electoral college Tuesday night is that pharma villain Martin Shkreli has been given a chance to fulfill an old promise. The beleaguered former CEO and hedge funder snatched up the only produced copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s secretly recorded double album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, last year for $2 million, then promised that if Trump wins, he’d release it. And he has.

In September of last year, Shkreli, then CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, hit the near maximum of white collar human notoriety possible when he price gouged the drug Daraprim, an antiparasitic critical for AIDS patients, by some 5,400 percent, sending it from $13.50 a pill to $750. By December he would be arrested for securities fraud, but somewhere in between, he managed to plunk down $2 million dollars for Shaolin at auction.

Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA told Bloomberg that once the group learned who bought the record, which was made by the original members (save for the deceased Ol’ Dirty Bastard), they would donate a large portion to charity. Initially, the Wu hadn’t intended to sell it at all, but that the “single-sale collector’s item” was meant to come with the caveat that the buyer couldn’t release it for 88 years. The group later amended that to require that it just couldn’t be sold commercially.

The record, contained in a hand-carved box with a 174-page leather-bound book, was kept in a Moroccan vault until it was auctioned off last November for $2 million. Shkreli told Bloomberg then that he actually hadn’t actually listened to the rest of the album after that. “I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day,” he said.

In October this year, Shkreli promised to release unheard tracks from Nirvana, The Beatles, and Wu-Tang Clan if Trump—who he intended to vote for—was elected.

He went on to joke that if Hillary wins he’d “break it,” referring to the album.

Today, Shkreli began livestreaming the album’s nearly two-minute intro. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say he began livestreaming himself listening to the intro, the camera focused, and occasionally zooming in and out, on his face, reacting to it as if hearing it for the first time:

He also livestreamed himself listening to part of a track, an acoustic guitar resting in his lap as he listens:

And him listening to part of a second track:

 

No word on if or when the Nirvana and Beatles songs are coming, but Wu-Tang fans should take heart: Shkreli said he’s working with them to negotiate a wider release.