Martin Shkreli Sued for Unauthorized Copying, Playing of Wu-Tang Clan's 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin'

PleasrDAO, the digital art collective that owns the limited album, claims Shkreli has violated terms of the forfeiture order

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jun 12, 2024

Ahead of Wu-Tang Clan's Once Upon a Time in Shaolin — the one-of-a-kind seventh album from the New York rap outfit — being played publicly for the first time in Australia this weekend, the album's previous owner has been sued for copying the release and playing it publicly without permission.

Martin Shkreli, who formerly owned Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, is being accused of violating his forfeiture order by making duplicate copies of the album and playing the music online, days ahead of current owners PleasrDAO throwing their own public listening event.

The disgraced former pharmaceutical executive reportedly live-streamed himself playing songs from the album via X this week, writing on the platform, "well @pleasrdao blocked me from their account so i think i will play the album on spaces now."

Digital art collective PleasrDAO purchased the one-of-one Wu-Tang Clan album in 2021. Their lawsuit claims [via Pitchfork] that Shkreli remains beholden to aspects of the forfeiture order, served to him by the US Department of Justice in 2018, including the stipulation that he "take[s] all reasonable steps, and bear all costs necessary, to ensure that all the Substitute Assets [i.e., Once Upon a Time in Shaolin] are preserved and maintained in good and marketable condition, and are not damaged, diluted or diminished in value as a result of any actions taken or not taken by the defendant and his representatives."

Shkreli bought Once Upon a Time in Shaolin in 2015 for $2 million USD. Later that year, he was arrested, and in 2017, was convicted of committing securities fraud. Along with a seven-year prison sentence, he was ordered to forfeit nearly $7.4 million in assets, including the Wu-Tang album.

PleasrDAO is seeking an inventory of the files that Shkreli has, the seizure of his album copies, damages and more, writing in their suit, "Any dissemination of the Album's music to the general public greatly diminishes and/or destroys the Album's value, and significantly damages PleasrDAO's reputation and ability to commercially exploit the Album."

Unsurprisingly, Shkreli can't stop posting through it all, mocking PleasrDAO on X over their legal action.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will be played publicly as part of an exhibition at Australia's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) beginning this Saturday. The album reportedly features the entire Wu-Tang Clan, FC Barcelona soccer players and Cher.

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