Remember Martin Shkreli? That big-pharma CEO who seemed to be doing his absolute best to become the least-liked person in human history is back. Though this time it's not with any sort of behaviour that might anger large groups of people. The opposite actually, because he's selling his one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album on eBay.
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is infamous because there's (apparently) only one copy in existence. It's even more infamous because said copy was purchased by Martin Shkreli, the former big-pharma CEO who became a controversial figure after raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750. In case you forgot, Daraprim is a life-saving drug for treating parasitic infections, notable because large numbers of people who take it are HIV positive.
Wu-Tang's RZA might not care that it was Shkreli who bought the album, but there are a lot of people who do. Those people will be very happy to hear about the auction, even if the price is close to $1 million at the time of writing - with over eight days still to go. Here's the description:
"This is the one and only Wu-Tang album.
I decided to purchase this album as a gift to the Wu-Tang Clan for their tremendous musical output. Instead I received scorn from at least one of their (least-intelligent) members, and the world at large failed to see my purpose of putting a serious value behind music. I will be curious to see if the world values music nearly as much as I have. I have donated to many rock bands and rappers over the years to ensure they can continue to produce their art when few others would.
At any time I may cancel this sale and I may even break this album in frustration. I will donate half of the sale proceeds to medical research. I am not selling to raise cash--my companies and I have record amounts of cash on hand. I hope someone with a bigger heart for music can be found for this one-of-a-kind piece and makes it available for the world to hear.
Upon sale, I will represent & warranty any copies of the music I have will be destroyed. I have not carefully listened to the album, which is a double CD. There is also a finely crafted booklet which you can read about elsewhere. I will pay legal expenses for the buyer up to $25,000 to ensure the final purchase details are mutually agreeable."
The listing hasn't disclosed a recipient for the charitable part of the final bid, because Shkreli says he wants to make sure they'll actually accept the donation first. A nice thought, though I'm not sure charities will turn down free money - even if it does come from someone so unpopular.
Looking over the bidding page is quite interesting. I noticed that one of the 'related' auctions is someone selling a print out of the page for $45.
The Q&A section is also worth a read. People have asked a lot of questions ranging from begging he just release the album online, criticisms, and barefaced trolling.
I had a look at the big history, and naturally it doesn't reveal much - other than the fact the same account names keep popping up repeatedly. So really this battle seems to be between a few rich people and/or trolls who are deliberately trying to jack up the price. The price has actually dropped while I've been writing this (it was over $1 million before), so at least one person's bid was cancelled or removed by eBay.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. The least interesting situation is that someone wins with a legitimate bid, and receives the album for themselves. But a lot can happen in eight and a half days. Shkreli might cancel the auction and snap the CD, as he threatened to, or a troll could win the thing and never pay up. We'll just have to wait and see.
If you're super rich, and want the album for yourself, you can bid here.