PleasrDAO, a group of 74 crypto collectors and artists, has revealed itself as the buyer of a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that was previously owned by convicted fraudster Martin Shkreli. The group says it paid $4 million for the album.
The Pharma Bro purchased the singular copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” in an online auction in 2015 for $2 million. The government seized his assets in 2018 after he was convicted of defrauding investors in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.
As part of a $7.4 milion forfeiture judgment, the album was sold in July. The buyer remained anonymous until PleasrDAO’s announcement Wednesday.
The two-disc, 31-track album is contained in an intricately carved nickel-silver case and includes a leather-bound book. PleasrDAO – the last three letters of which stand for “decentralized autonomous organization” – paid for it using a cryptocurrency tied to the U.S. dollar.
PleasrDAO, which officially acquired the album on Sept. 10, told The New York Times that it plans to make the album widely available to the public for listening if Wu-Tang’s RZA and producer Cilvaringz give them permission. (The album was sold to Shkreli under the condition that it would not be released for public consumption until the year 2103, 88 years after the initial sale date; these restrictions still stand for now.)
The purchase is part of PleasrDAO’s larger objective to collect digital creations from “an exploitative, antiquated economic system,” the Times reported.
“This album at its inception was a kind of protest against rent-seeking middlemen, people who are taking a cut away from the artist,” Johnson said. “Crypto very much shares that same ethos.”
Added Johnson, “We believe that we can do something with this piece, to enable it to be shared and ideally owned in part by fans and anyone in the world.”