This Is Why You Don’t Sell the One Copy of Your Album for $2 Million

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 news that Wu-Tang Clan had recorded an album of which there would only be one copy, sold for millions of dollars at auction, with the stipulation that it couldn’t be resold, has inspired debate for more than a year.

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. 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 number one 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.

Others have argued that it’s an insult to fans, a capitulation to traditional ideas about exclusivity and power that rap once railed against, and a demonstration of how capitalism can hurt art. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian King.” Only this scepter was a 31-track double album that had been recorded in secret over several years by the surviving members of the group and some special guests, which apparently included Cher, according to a Bloomberg feature on the sale.

The album, at the time, was being stored in the vault of a Marrakech hotel in an engraved silver-and-nickel box that took an artist three months to hand craft. 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. 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. Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ ” He drew the wrath of consumers, became a talking point in the presidential campaign, and spurred federal and state inquiries along with a dialogue about controlling rising drug prices. The Bloomberg Businessweek article that broke the news of Shkreli’s winning bid​ quotes him as saying he has not yet listened to the album, even though the deal—for a rumored $2 million—closed months ago. 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.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the album was rumored to have had a lot of suitors: billionaires, Quentin Tarantino, and 688 Wu-Tang fans who donated to a Kickstarter to raise money in order to bid and keep the album in the hands of true fans, Bloomberg reported. 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. He said he made his final decision once the auction-house representative told him that doing so would give him “the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities and rappers who would want to hear it.” Remedying loneliness with property is an ongoing part of his narrative. 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. Just as quickly, Shkreli became the very public face of the industry’s heartless greed and the target of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who refused a campaign contribution from the 32-year-old and instead donated it to charity. 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.

If you had, you’d know that Shkreli is man who also tweeted about bidding on Kurt Cobain’s credit card, also auctioned off by Paddle8, and asked his followers whether he should buy a signed Katy Perry guitar to entice her to date him. A fan of tweeting Eminem lyrics and even a photo of him with Fetty Wap (who Bloomberg reported performed at Turing’s Christmas party), Shkreli appears to be an aspiring rap artist himself. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.” What national treasure, life-altering medication, or struggling company will Shkreli manage to get his grubby hands on next?

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