Music fans, recording industry insiders and the media are voicing outrage after word surfaced that a price-gouging pharmaceutical industry executive was the mystery buyer of a Wu-Tang Clan album of which just a single copy was made.
Bloomberg Businessweek broke the news that the album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” was bought by Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals.
Billboard notes that Shkreli was in the headlines earlier this year when reports surfaced that Turing raised the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim, which is commonly used to treat malaria and has applications in AIDS treatment, from $13.50 per pill to $750. The price hike earned Shkreli the title “most hated man in America,” Billboard reports.
Shkreli reportedly won the rights to the Wu-Tang Clan album back in May with a $2 million bid, but his identity as the buyer only surfaced recently.
NBC News reports that Shkreli has now talked about his purchase on Twitter, writing: “If there is a curious gap in your favorite artist’s discography, well, now you know why.”
The NBC News report adds: “Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, an infection that is especially dangerous for AIDS patients with weakened immune systems and also pregnant women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The Atlantic notes that the marketing strategy for the Wu-Tang Clan album was controversial even before the buyer was known. Group member RZA has defended the plan as a statement on the value of music.
“Others have argued that it’s an insult to fans, a capitulation to traditional ideas about exclusivity and power that rap once railed against, and a demonstration of how capitalism can hurt art,” The Atlantic adds.
The Atlantic concludes: “The debate is now settled. Wu-Tang has made a horrible mistake.”