Pharma’s Bad Boy Exec Paid $2 Million for Wu-Tang Clan’s New Record

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli bought Wu-Tang’s one-of-a-kind album for $2 million.

The “morally bankrupt” boss of a drugs company who hiked the cost of an AIDS drug by more than 5,000% overnight has splashed out more than £1m on a one-off rap record.

In November Forbes reported that Wu-Tang’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin finally sold for “millions” to an American buyer through auction startup Paddle8.Online auction house Paddle8 announced in late November that a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album had been sold for “millions,” but left out the part about who the buyer was.

The band said they were creating “a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music” when they released the record for sale to the highest bidder. The 32-year-old Turing Pharmecuticals CEO, who raised the price of AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750, dished to Bloomberg Business in an article published on Wednesday. Shkreli reveals that Paddle8’s co-founder told him owning the album would attract new friends like rappers and celebrities – types of people who would want to hear the one-of-a-kind record. “I really became convinced that I should be the buyer,” he said. The purchase combines two extreme examples of divergent trends: Musicians having to come up with inventive ways to make any money off their art, and pharmaceutical companies rolling in money from pricey drugs.

In an extensive report by Bloomberg Businessweek on Wednesday it was revealed that controversial pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli is the one who made the purchase. Shkreli purchased the album through the auction site Paddle8, which announced last month that it sold “Shaolin” to a “single collector, with no physical or digital duplicate in existence.” The auction site described the album as “a sonic sculpture presented in a hand-carved nickel-silver box.” It also comes with “a 174-pages of bound gilded parchment containing lyrics, credits, and anecdotes on the production of each song, bound in leather.” Last March, Wu-Tang Clan revealed it was selling a special edition double album of which there would be only one copy. Following the outcry, Shkreli’s company pledged that no patient needing the drug would ever be denied access to it – but HIV health campaigners said this was not enough.

Meanwhile, Wu-Tang — a legendary nine-member hip-hop group that burst onto the scene with the classic album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” in 1994 — could reportedly sell only 60,000 copies of its latest group effort, “A Better Tomorrow,” and group leader Rza said he expected to lose $500,000 after self-financing the production. They even floated the possibility of having the album tour museums like an exhibit, taking extra security precautions to ensure that no illicit recording devices would be used to capture and disseminate the music. Member RZA said in a statement he “hoped that this concept would inspire debate and new ways of seeing creativity” while fans and other members of Wu criticized it saying it was taking away from the heart of what music is. Initially Wu-Tang attached stipulations to the sale, namely that the buyer would have to wait 88 years before publicly sharing the album for mass consumption. Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ I think they were trying to cover their butts a little bit.” After learning of Shkreli’s business dealings — which came to light after the deal was closed — RZA told Bloomberg that the band gave a “significant portion” of the album’s proceeds to charity.

This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.” That type of exclusivity seemed to speak to Shkreli, whom Bloomberg reported had purchased Kurt Cobain’s credit card from the same auction house that handled the Wu-Tang sale. Shkreli has been labeled a “scumbag” and a “garbage monster.” “I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,” Shkreli told Bloomberg. “But by then we’d closed. For true fans of Wu-Tang, who would pull their tongue out of their mouth and stab it with a rusty screwdriver for the chance to own the album, the thought of a morally questionable executive buying it solely for prestige could be hard to stomach.

Under the condition of the sale, Wu-Tang will never release any of the content in any form to the public, and neither can the buyer, unless it is released for free. Surprisingly, Shkreli has yet to even listen to the music (he had an assistant do that during the bidding process), and he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. “I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that,” he says. “But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.” For pissed off fans who will likely never hear the album, Shkreli makes it clear he doesn’t care. “At the end of the day,” he says, “they didn’t buy the last album or the one before that, and all they had to pay was $10.” Punctuating just how rich he is, Shkreli was interviewed as he was preparing for a company holiday party that featured an appearance by “Trap Queen” rapper Fetty Wap. “Typically you would say, ‘As an average fan, I can’t get Fetty Wap to give me a personal concert,’ ” he says. “The reality is, sure you could.

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