Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive who was widely criticized for jacking up the price of a drug mainly used by cancer and HIV-AIDS patients by more than 5,000 percent, is the secret buyer of a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, Bloomberg Business reported Wednesday.
The 32-year-old founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who in September increased the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 per tablet, up from $13.50, purchased the iconic hip-hop group's album "The Wu -- Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" for $2 million, according to "someone familiar with the deal," Bloomberg reported.
On Wednesday, Shkreli, who became disparagingly known as "pharma bro" after he made headlines for the price gouge, retweeted the Bloomberg article and made several references to the purchase from his Twitter account.
In 2014, Wu-Tang Clan announced that it would be releasing only one copy of a 31-track double album that, due to its rarity, was expected to sell for millions.
"We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” Robert “RZA” Diggs, one of the founding members of the hip-hop group, told Forbes in 2014. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
Paddle8, the auction house that facilitated the sale of the album, announced in November that it had sold to an unnamed "American buyer" for an "undisclosed figure in the millions." An agreement to sell the album to Shkreli was reached in May, the auction house said in their press release, but it took some time to finalize the deal.
By September, Shkreli was sharply and publicly ridiculed when his company acquired the rights to a life-saving drug and raised its price overnight, causing some patients' health care costs to skyrocket. As the uproar grew, Shkreli agreed to lower the price of the drug but did not actually specify how much he would lower it.
Diggs, the album's producer, told Bloomberg in an email that the sale of the album was agreed upon "well before Martin Skhreli's [sic] business practices came to light" and that the group decided to give "a significant portion of the proceeds to charity."