PleasrDAO sues Martin Shkreli for allegedly copying Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’

Martin Shkreli, 2016. Photo: Public Domain

Martin Shkreli has been sued by PleasrDAO for allegedly creating a copy of the one-of-a-kind album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2015) by American rap group Wu-Tang Clan. PleasrDAO, a collective of digital art collectors, purchased the album in 2021 for $4.75 million from the US government, who owned Shkreli’s assets followed the disgraced businessman’s 2015 conviction of financial crimes and £70 million fines.

In their lawsuit, PleasrDAO asserts ‘Shkreli improperly retained copies of the data and files at the time of the forfeiture and has released and/or intends to release them to the public. Such actions would cause PleasrDAO to incur significant monetary and irreparable harm and give rise to numerous claims for relief under the forfeiture order and common law.’

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, 2015. Photo: Museum of New and Old Art, Tasmania.

Following Shkreli’s release from prison, where he served almost six and a half years of a seven-year sentence, he held a livestream ‘listening party’ in which he played Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for his followers, saying “Yeah, that’s the Wu-Tang album for all you crazy streamer people”. On another streaming occasion, Shkreli said, “of course” he made copies. “I’m not stupid,” he told his followers, “I don’t buy something for $2 million just so I can keep one copy.”

Earlier this year, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) released free and timed tickets to listen to a 30-minute excerpt of the 31-track album, available to the public for the first time. The sold out exhibition runs 15–24 June.

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