‘Once Upon A Time in Shaolin’ Wu-Tang Album Is Now a $1 NFT — After Being Sold for $4.75 Million

Wu-Tang Clan Album 'Once Upon A Time in Shaolin' On Display
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Wu-Tang Clan Album 'Once Upon A Time in Shaolin' On Display
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Photo Credit: PleasrDAO

The one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin has been turned into an NFT offering by PleasrDAO. Pleasr acquired the album for $4.75 million after the United States government seized it and sold it as part of a judgment against convicted felon Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli.

The encrypted album was made available today through a dedicated website for $1, with each purchase shortening the 2103 release date by 88 days. For now, buyers have received snippets of the album while they await the full release — whenever that date arrives.

The album NFTs reside on Base, which is Coinbase’s Ethereum layer-2 scaling network. Distribution of the NFTs will be handled by Pleasr in collaboration with Privy, Crossmint, and Holograph.

The Wu-Tang Clan created the album and only sold a single copy of it in 2015, with a stipulation that any owners of the album could not commercially exploit it until 2103. PleasrDAO says it has been working with the album’s producers in secret over the last six months to gain exclusive commercialization rights to the music on the album. According to Pleasr, it has so far acquired the rights to commercial exploit 16 of the 31 tracks on the album.

“This album was created to question what it means to value music in the digital world, Leighton Cusack, a Founder of PleasrDAO told Decrypt. “This is the new technology that lets us actually bring ownership back to the digital world. And does that now make music valuable again?”

NFTs of the album can be purchased using credit cards or Apple Pay in an off-chain payment flow. Through that process, users have a crypto wallet created for them with the purchased NFT minted and deposited. Pleasr says this is an attempt to bring blockchain technology into the cultural mainstream by appealing to hip-hop fans who may have wanted to hear this legendary album for nearly ten years.

Former owner Martin Shkreli had a judge block him from livestreaming .mp3s he ripped of the album, while PleasrDAO filed a lawsuit against the Pharma Bro. Shkreli paid $2 million for the album in 2015 and lost it as part of a $7.4 million forfeiture order after his 2017 conviction for defrauding investors.

Shkreli told an audience during a live stream, “I was playing it on YouTube the other night even though somebody paid $4 million for it.” Thousands of people tuned in to that stream, which Shkreli titled “Wu tang official listening party.”

The lawsuit seeks to require Shkreli to destroy his .mp3 copies of the songs, turn over any profits from streaming the music, and pay compensatory and punitive damages for streaming the music in violation of the original agreement and his forfeiture order.