PleasrDAO has revealed itself to be the new owners of Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind unreleased album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
The 74 members of the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) now share collective ownership of the album. The group purchased the sole copy of the album from the United States federal government for $4 million at the end of July, collected it in September, and moved it to a vault at an undisclosed location in New York. PleasrDAO has minted the ownership deed as a nonfungible token (NFT) with the help of crypto-savvy attorney Peter Scoolidge.
A collective of decentralized finance leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists, PleasrDAO is well-known for tokenizing the original Doge meme and purchasing Edward Snowden’s “Stay Free” artwork for 2,224 Ether (ETH).
The government came to possess the album in 2018 after seizing the assets of former owner “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli on fraud charges. Shkreli, who was widely reviled for jacking up the prices of life-saving drugs by up to 5,000%, had anonymously purchased the album in 2015 for $2 million, making it the most expensive piece of music ever sold at the time.
The lead of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, and album producer Cilvaringz originally created the album in response to their concerns that piracy and digital streaming cheapens the value of music.
Cilvaringz said they hoped that the album would “return music to the value of fine art — a mission finally possible in today’s environment, nearly a decade later with NFT technology and the ability to mint this album as a unique 1:1 original.”
For this reason, PleasrDAO’s interest in the album is self-explanatory, wrote “chief pleasing officer” Jamis Johnson in a blog post.
“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin in many ways is the OG NFT before NFT technology had made its way into the zeitgeist.”
As for the future of the album, Johnson said PleasrDAO believes the “next chapter of the incredible story of this album should be Web 3.0 native.”
PleasrDAO is still bound by a legal agreement underpinning the album, which prevents it from being commercially released until 2103, although listening parties are allowed. Despite this, the group insists they “firmly believe there are ways to share this musical masterpiece with the world.”