You Won’t Like Who Paid $2M for 'Rarest Album Ever'

It's the pharma CEO we all love to hate, Martin Shkreli
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2015 10:13 AM CST
You Won't Believe Who Bought Wu-Tang's 'Rarest Album Ever'
Activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

A mysterious buyer purchased the so-called "rarest album ever created" for a sum reportedly in the millions. Now, Bloomberg Businessweek reveals exactly who bought Wu-Tang Clan's Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, of which just one copy exists: Martin Shkreli, the "price-gouging" Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO the world loves to hate. Shkreli, a longtime Wu-Tang fan, was one of the serious bidders allowed to hear 13 minutes of the album in a private session. He tells Bloomberg he was even more convinced he should buy the record when an auction house co-founder pointed out that, by owning it, he'd be able to network with celebs who wanted to hear it. The auction house hasn't confirmed the buyer, and Wu-Tang's RZA did so only after learning Bloomberg was going to publish its piece: "The sale... was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity."

Shkreli lunched with RZA before the sale: "We didn’t have a ton in common," he tells Bloomberg. "I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him." Shkreli won't say how much he paid for the album (a source familiar with the deal says it was $2 million), but he says he had an inkling right away that his was the highest bid; he delegated one of his employees to listen to a bit more of the album before closing the sale, just to make sure it was "all there," Bloomberg notes. All of this was set into motion before news broke that Turing had raised the price of Daraprim, a drug it purchased, by 5,000%. "I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal," Shkreli says of Wu-Tang. "But by then we’d closed." He has yet to listen to Shaolin and has no immediate plans to: "I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that," he says. "But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.” (Read more Wu-Tang Clan stories.)

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