December 9, 2015
Originally published on FACT
Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive infamous for hiking the price of a critical drug by 5,000%, has splashed out $2 million on Wu-Tang Clan’s edition-of-one album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin.
Bloomberg reveals that Shkreli successfully bid for the unique album through online art marketplace Paddle8 after attending a private listening session, where he was told by Paddle8 co-founder Alexander Gilkes that he would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities and rappers who would want to hear the record if he bought it.
“Then I really became convinced that I should be the buyer,” Shkreli told Bloomberg, adding that he also got to have lunch with RZA. “We didn’t have a ton in common,” he says. “I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him.”
Shkreli was concerned about how Wu-Tang Clan would react to the drug dispute, however. “I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,” he says. “But by then we’d closed. The whole kind of thing since then has been just kind of ‘Well, do we want to announce it’s him? Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ I think they were trying to cover their butts a little bit.”
RZA later made a statement to Bloomberg saying that some of the proceeds from the sale will go to charity: “The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
The same month Shkreli closed the deal, his new company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, purchased an anti-parasitic drug called Daraprim and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to $750, attracting the ire of everyone from Hillary Clinton, who called his actions “outrageous”, to Thursday singer Geoff Rickly, whose label Collect was owned by Shkreli until he severed ties with the pharma boss over the scandal.