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Wu-Tang Clan album sale pays off Martin Shkreli’s court debt

UPDATED: Wed., July 28, 2021

Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, aka RZA, and Clifford Smith, aka Method Man, of Wu-Tang Clan, perform during the second weekend of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.  (John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, aka RZA, and Clifford Smith, aka Method Man, of Wu-Tang Clan, perform during the second weekend of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. (John Shearer/Invision/AP)
By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

An unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album forfeited by Martin Shkreli after his securities fraud conviction was sold Tuesday for an undisclosed sum, though prosecutors say it was enough to fully satisfy the rest of what he owed on a $7.4 million forfeiture order he faced after his 2018 sentencing.

The entrepreneur known as “Pharma Bro” once boasted that he paid $2 million in 2015 at auction for “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” the 31-track double album the Wu-Tang Clan spent six years creating.

“With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis in Brooklyn said in a release.

Authorities said the sales contract for the album contained a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.

In a civil case in Manhattan federal court, lawyers wrote in an April document that Shkreli had already reduced his forfeiture debt by about $5 million.

Attorney Benjamin Brafman, who represented Shkreli, said he couldn’t comment because of the confidentiality order.

He said in an email that he can only confirm that the entire forfeiture amount has now been paid.

Shkreli, 38, is scheduled for release in October 2022 after serving a seven-year prison sentence.

He was prosecuted after he gained fame in 2015 after he boosted by 5,000% the price of Daraprim, a previously cheap drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal to people with the AIDS virus or other immune-system disorders.

Shkreli’s purchase of the Wu-Tang Clan album came as group member RZA said he wanted the album – packaged in a hand-crafted silver and nickel case which includes a 174-page book wrapped in leather – to be viewed as a piece of contemporary art.

At sentencing, Shkreli also claimed to own an unreleased Lil Wayne album, “Tha Carter V.”

In its debut week in 2008, the rapper’s “Tha Carter III” sold more than 1 million copies and helped launch Lil Wayne to superstar status.

In 2017, Shkreli was convicted of lying to investors and cheating them out of millions of dollars in two failed hedge funds he operated. Brafman described Shkreli at sentencing as a misunderstood eccentric who used unconventional means to make his defrauded investors even wealthier.

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