RZA Donates Proceeds From Wu-Tang's “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” to Hip-Hop Chess Federation

Notorious biotech CEO Martin Shkreli paid $2 million for the only copy of the album.

A pharmaceutical company exec, who has been pilloried in the past for buying the rights to an HIV drug then hiking up the price, is now the sole owner of the new Wu-Tang Clan album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin."

And the Bay Area's Hip-Hop Chess Federation will benefit. 

The Wu-Tang Clan long ago announced that its newest release would only be distributed to one person, like a work of high art. That one copy would then be sold off to the highest bidder.

Well, it sold. For a bundle. Reportedly $2 million. And the buyer? Bay Area Biotech CEO Martin Shkreli, who cops to buying it in a series of tweets, including one reading,"If there is a curious gap in your favorite artist's discography, well, now you know why."


Bloomberg Business cited a source "familiar with the deal" as saying Shkreli spent $2 million for the Wu-Tang Clan record.

Shkreli became notorious when his company Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to an HIV drug then raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill, according to NBC News. He eventually agreed to cut the cost to about $375 per pill amid widespread criticism.

He later bought up the majority of shares in another company, South San Francisco's KaloBios, whose stock price shot up more than 4,000 percent.

When NBC Bay Area spoke to Shkreli about all the attention, he said "I'm not here to please the media, I'm here to please investors, and ultimately help patients."

Wu-Tang leader RZA said he'd give some of the proceeds to charity. He came through. Among those getting money from the sale is the Bay Area's Hip-Hop Chess Federation. HHCF blends rap and chess to help kids make better decisions in life through the study of chess (a theme of many a Wu-Tang song) and martial arts.

HHCF co-founder Adisa Banjoko tells NBC Bay Area, "RZA told me the sale of the album occurred. He wanted to make a donation, as a karmic ripple effect. I'm thankful for the donation, at a time when it's hard for kids out there. RZA believes in what we're doing ... I hope other artists follow his lead."

Shkreli told Bloomberg he hadn't listened to the exclusive album yet but planned to "for a rainy day" or if "Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that."

Scott tracks tech on Twitter: @scottbudman

Martin Shkreli, CEO of San Francisco’s KaloBios, sits down with NBC Bay Area’s Scott Budman.
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