After anonymously purchasing the project from the federal government for $4 million via an intermediary, the owners of Wu-Tang’s mysterious Once Upon a Time In Shaolin album have finally come forward, and they want other people to hear the record.
As you probably know, the only existing copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s 2015 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, was previously seized from “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence for securities fraud. The buyers, who at the time wished to remain anonymous, have now been revealed to be a collective of 74 people known as PleasrDAO, a group of crypto fans who in the last year have acquired a reputation for buying digital art.
“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, the collective’s 34-year-old “Chief Pleasing Officer,” told Rolling Stone. Unlike Shkreli, who at times threatened to destroy the record, Johnson added that he wants people to hear it. “We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.”
But to do that, they’re gonna have to talk to RZA and producer Cilvaringz. The purchase of Once Upon a Time came with serious conditions, including that it can’t be released to the public until 2103. An NFT of the album was created as part of “the ownership deed for the physical album,” Peter Scoolidge, a lawyer that was involved in the transaction told The New York Times, which potentially means that PleasrDAO could expand ownership of the album to fans, but this all remains up in the air while they speak to RZA and Cilvaringz. They told the Times that conversations with them have been ongoing. “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,” Johnson said.
RZA did not respond to the Times request for comment, but Cilvaringz, real name Tarik Azzougarh, said in a statement that he was supportive of the NFT idea. “We wanted to honor the NFT concept without breaking our own rules,” the producer said in a statement. Johnson concluded by saying getting others to hear the album was their priority. “Our direction right now,” Johnson said, “is to get this open to the whole world.”
Watch Johnson retrieve the one-of-a-kind album below, and let’s hope some of us will be able to hear it soon.