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The US government just auctioned off an unreleased 31-track Wu-Tang Clan album

Wu-Tang Clan
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

A 31-track double album from the Wu-Tang Clan was sold to an unknown buyer this week by the US government. The record was forfeited by entrepreneur and convicted criminal Martin Shkreli to satisfy the remainder of his debt following a $7.4m forfeiture order laid down in 2018. It seems that the Wu-Tang Clan were right all along when they said, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me"...

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was originally purchased for $2m by Shkreli in a 2015 auction. The album, which the Wu-Tang Clan spent six years recording, is said to include features from the pop artist Cher and Game of Thrones star Carice Van Houten. 

The group released the album as a one-off "commissioned commodity" in response to what they saw as the devaluation of music caused by online streaming and piracy. Packaged in a hand-carved silver box and accompanied by a 174-page leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics, liner notes and a certificate of authenticity, the record has never been fully leaked. Shkreli violated the rules of the album's ownership agreement in 2016 by revealing one track during a live-stream celebrating Donald Trump's election. 

Martin Shkreli hit the headlines in 2015 after jacking up the prices of Daraprim - a drug used to treat life-threatening infections - to exorbitant figures, quickly becoming a poster boy for corporate greed. He is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence for defrauding investors, after being convicted in 2018. 

The lawyer representing the album's buyer has stated that they intend to reveal their identity in the coming months. Some are speculating that a member of the Wu-Tang Clan itself has purchased the record back from Shkreli. 

Matt Mullen

I'm the Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for almost ten years, and when I'm not tapping away at my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a synthesizer. My latest obsession is the Arturia MicroFreak, which will have to do until I've saved up for a Prophet-6... 

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