‘The most hated man in America’ bought the secret Wu-Tang Clan album

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The most hated man in America’ bought the secret Wu-Tang Clan album.

The Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive told Bloomberg Business that he was the mystery buyer of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” a Wu-Tang Clan recording that has only one copy and is considered the most expensive album ever sold. Private auction house Paddle8, which spent six months discreetly vetting offers for the album, citing its policy of client confidentiality, would only reveal that an American buyer had acquired the opus and that the buyer and seller agreed to the sale in May before months of contracts and new legal protections were finalized.

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. 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.

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? It’s very hard stuff to understand.” Under the terms of the deal, Shkreli can’t “commercialize” it for 88 years, according to Paddle8, the online auction house that Wu-Tang Clan hired to handle the transaction. 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. 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. The purchase came about after Shkreli attended a private listening party at which a select number of people got to listen to short excerpts from the group’s new music. “I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,” he said. “But by then we’d closed.

Meanwhile, Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA told NBC Bay Area that he is giving some of the proceeds from the sale to charity, including the Hip-Hop Chess Federation, which uses a mix of rap and chess and martial arts to help kids learn how to make better decisions. 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? The album was placed in a nickel-and-silver box that Forbes reported took three months to hand-craft, and put it up for auction. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music,” Wu-Tang producer and rapper Rza told Forbes. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. 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.

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. 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. 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. It was accompanied by a 174-page manuscript containing lyrics, credits and anecdotes on the production of each song, printed on gilded Fedrigoni Marina parchment and encased in leather by a master bookbinder and came with a set of $50,000 speakers for listening. Now that Shkreli has achieved ignominy, though, he’s hardly a pariah in the musical world: He’s hired Fetty Wap to perform at his company’s Christmas party. “Shkreli was taken by the Wu-Tang song C.R.E.A.M., which stands for ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me.’ It includes the often-repeated phrase ‘Dolla dolla bill, y’all!’ ” It wasn’t fandom that drove his purchase, though.

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