Pharma Boss Unmasked As Wu Tang Clan Album Buyer

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli bought Wu-Tang Clan’s million-dollar album.

The pharmaceutical company honcho who sparked outrage by gouging the price of a lifesaving HIV drug has been revealed to be the buyer of the only copy of the new Wu Tang Clan album, “One Upon a Time in Shaolin.” And Shkreli, who was publicly pilloried when it was revealed that he planned to increase the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent, spent $2 million for the record, according to Bloomberg, which cited “someone familiar with the deal” as its source. The album includes a single called C.R.E.A.M., which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” and which features the oft-repeated phrase “Dolla dolla bill, y’all!” Shkreli was vilified in September after his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York, bought the rights to the drug from Impax Laboratories for $55 million — and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. They destroyed all duplicates and placed the only extant version in a hand-carved silver and nickel box, along with a 174-page leather-bound book of lyrics, anecdotes and credits.

Dubbed “the most hated man in America” by the BBC after price gouging AIDS patients and kids with kidney disease, the hedge fund manager-turned-comic book villain for the 1 percent is today’s public enemy No. 1 for rap fans. Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, an infection that is especially dangerous for AIDS patients with weakened immune systems and also pregnant women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s very easy to see a large drug price increase and say ‘Gosh, those people must be gouging,” he told NBC News. “But when you find out that the company is not really making any money, what does that mean? Before he closed the deal, Shkreli was allowed to listen to some of the record, but he didn’t actually do it himself—he “delegated the task to an employee,” Bloomberg writes.

While Paddle8 did not divulge how much the album went for, the company did said it was the most ever spent on a single album, far surpassing the $306,000 spent for the only existing album from The Quarrymen, the band that became The Beatles. After being announced in March 2014 as “a single-sale collector’s item… like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king,” by RZA, the Wu hired paddle8, an online auction site, to sell the album. That bidder ended up being a man who became famous in September for his business practices of increasing prices on life-saving medications by egregious amounts.

To add to the troll factor, Shkreli went on his personal live YouTube stream on Wednesday to compile an alphabetized excel list of other artists he might try to buy an exclusive album from. “Yeah, I’ll keep Black Star’s album from coming out—it’ll be fun,” he quipped. “Who hasn’t made an album in a long time, that everyone wants a new album from? It’s like someone criticizing a basketball player for scoring too many points”), Shkreli doesn’t apologize spending a reported $2 million on a huge album from an artist he barely cares about.

The company fired him last year and has accused him, in federal court in Manhattan, of taking money from Retrophin’s coffers to pay back investors in MSMB Capital. Although, Shkreli said, “we didn’t have a ton in common.” Wu fans might feel a little outraged that there’s a man in the world who has 31 unheard Tang tracks sitting in a box in his home – who was really only convinced to put a bid on on the album after being told it would convince celebrities to rub shoulders with him – and who also has questionable morals. While artists have every right to do whatever they want with their work, including sell it privately to an apparent moral blank, musicians should maybe think more carefully the next time they do a Wu-Tang style single album sale about the type of plutocrat who might make such a purchase and whether or not they want their names associated with such a person. Doctors have called the price hike “scare mongering.” Outside the health care community, an indie record label in Brooklyn that he had supported cut ties with him. Hillary Clinton tweeted about him (“Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous”) and even Donald Trump said, “He looks like a spoiled brat to me.” But Shkreli has shown time and time again that he is unfazed by Internet ire or by negative press.

Shkreli retweeted the Bloomberg Business article and posted a live-stream of himself at his desk while listening to music and talking about work, with a suggestion that he might play the album.

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