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RZA Regrets Selling ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ to Martin Shkreli

“It was in the wrong hands,” producer tells Hot 97 of originally selling one-of-a-kind CD to “pharma bro”

Griffin Lotz for Rolling Stone

The RZA discussed the recent $4 million sale of the Wu-Tang Clan’s one-copy-only Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and his regret about selling the album to “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli in a radio interview Wednesday.

It was revealed last week that crypto collective PleasrDAO had purchased the one-of-a-kind compact disc at auction from the government, who previously seized it from Shkreli; the reviled hedge fund and pharmaceutical executive purchased Once Upon a Time in Shaolin directly from RZA for $2 million in 2015, three years before he was sentenced to prison on securities fraud charges.

Speaking to Hot 97 Wednesday (via Okayplayer), RZA admitted of the Shkreli sale: “It was in the wrong hands in reality. He made the deal before it was revealed of his character, his personality, and all of the insidious things he would go on to do. That wasn’t the guy I met, but he definitely unfolded into that guy.” 

The producer added that while original plans for museum exhibits and listening parties under Shkreli’s ownership never came to fruition, he’s hopeful that PleasrDAO will share the music with fans in some capacity; RZA said he spoke to “one of the gentlemen” involved at PleasrDAO who had “more of a Wu vibe.”

“Now that PleasrDAO has it, there’s an opportunity that a lot these beautiful ideas of what this art can be and how it could expand itself in the world and in its own life of itself, I think the possibilities are there now,” the RZA said.

Rolling Stone spoke to members of PleasrDAO earlier this month when the NFT-purchasing collective revealed for the first time they were the ones who bought the album at auction this past summer.

“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent-seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” Jamis Johnson, PleasrDAO’s 34-year-old Chief Pleasing Officer, told Rolling Stone at the time. “We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.”

From Rolling Stone US