The Wu-Tang Clan's decision to only sell one copy of their ultra-rare album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, took a bizarre turn when Martin Shkreli bought it for $2 million. Now that Shkreli is in jail, the album is in the hands of the U.S. government, and RZA recently revealed that at one point he tried to buy the album back himself. He wasn't always happy with the outcome of the experiment, but he does say he thinks the whole thing could be turned into a movie.
"He had a pretty wild life, totally Lex Luthor—a bad superhero life," RZA told a camera man for the New York Daily News this week. "I think the whole incident and the whole saga around that is a story. There's a book out about it right now, and that book actually seems worthy of a film." The book he's referring to is Cyrus Bozorgmehr's Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: The Untold Story of the Wu-Tang Clan's Million-Dollar Secret Album, the Devaluation of Music, and America's New Public Enemy No. 1.
As for the fate of the album itself, RZA doesn't think it'll remain in the control of the government forever: "I think it'll go out to a private collector and hopefully it'll end up in some kind of museum. You know, they've got the African Museum in Washington, D.C. right now. They should put it in there."
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, RZA addressed some of the negative feedback he's received for the whole thing. "I’ve lost fans, because they think I’ve done something that was out of the nature of what Wu-Tang is," he said. "I think they're wrong, but they will have their opinion, right? They felt that we tried to make music become something that only the elite can have, and that's far from the reality."
While Shkreli wasn't the ideal buyer he had in mind, RZA does think the decision to only sell one copy of the album was a success. He thinks it gave the project a level of mystique that most albums don't receive.
"It proved the point that I was trying to do, which is, if art is an entity like how the Mona Lisa is something that has a story of its own, it'll live longer than the artist themselves," he pointed out to NY Daily News. "I think that album is in the same situation."