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Buyer of Martin Shkreli’s Wu-Tang Clan album will go public

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A photo file of former pharmaceutical director Martin Shkreli.

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Once upon a time …. the same lawyer who negotiated a mysterious sale of a unique Wu-Tang Clan album lost to criminal “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli was involved in legal matters around the same hip. hop and disco group.

New York attorney Peter Scoolidge identified himself Tuesday as the person who handled the purchase from an undisclosed buyer, for an equally secret price, from the U.S. government of the single copy of the Wu record. -Tang Clan “Once upon a time in Shaolin.”

While the amount of the purchase has not been disclosed, prosecutors have said the sale covered the balance of a $ 7.4 million confiscation lawsuit that Shkreli was ordered to pay in 2018, months later. that he had been convicted in Brooklyn federal court for security fraud.

In April, the confiscation balance was about $ 2.3 million – or about $ 300,000 more than what Shkreli would have paid for the album when I bought it via an online sale in 2015.

“This was the most interesting business I’ve ever worked on,” Scoolidge said in a statement posted to CNBC Tuesday. He reiterated that the sales contract with the government prohibits the disclosure of the name of the buyer – or buyers.

What Scoolidge did not mention Tuesday is that he had represented Long Island artist Jason Koza, who cited in case Shkreli, Wu-Tang Clan co-founder Robert “RZA” Driggs, the co-producer of the album Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, is an online auction house. in connection with the artwork illustrations used in the 174-page leather-bound book that was sold to Shkreli as part of the album.

Nor did Scoolidge mention that he also performed in the past Azzougarh in connection with the same album.

But Scoolidge told CNBC on Wednesday that Azzougarh had hired him in early 2018 to represent the producer in question regarding Shkreli’s loss of the album.

“Tarik knew who I was in the first trial and got me,” Scoolidge said.

The lawyer also said Wednesday that the buyer until the album’s secrecy “will be identified in the future, I will say in the next 30 to 60 days.”

But Scoolidge’s involvement in the album’s sale, and his past history of Wu-Tang Clan-related problems involving the same record, raises the question of whether the group or its individual members were involved in the album. purchase of his album by the government.

Scoolidge declined to comment on this possibility.

A Wu-Tang Clan spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about comments on the album’s sale, or on the question of whether members of the group participated in the latest acquisition by the government.

“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is not just a record, one of which there is only one copy.

It is also considered a piece of art, and a very strange piece of intellectual property.

The two-CD album, which would have taken six years to produce, features Cher, among other guests. Much of the album it was produced in Marrakech, Morocco, where Azzougarh lives.

The album was sold encased in a silver box with a Wu-Tang Clan wax seal, as well as the leather-bound book containing liner notes.

Azzougarh, at the time of the album’s announced sale from the auction house to auction Paddle8, noted that the terms of the sale prevented its buyer from releasing the album on sale for decades. Several decades.

“After 88 years the copyright, which includes public and commercial rights, is automatically transferred to the owner of the work,” he told Forbes in 2015.

“However, it will always be his choice in this [point] to release him or not to release him. “

Shkreli was released as the album’s secret buyer in a Bloomberg Businessweek article in late 2015.

Months earlier, he had become sadly national with his decision, as CEO of the pharmaceutical company then known as Turing Pharmaceuticals, to increase the price of an antiparasitic drug used by HIV patients, infants and pregnant women more of 5,000 percent.

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Shkreli has doubled down on controversy by trolling mercilessly people on Twitter, and backing current presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying he would release “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” free to the public if Trump were elected.

Shkreli, who has a history of lying, ended up broadcasting only a few parts of the album online after Trump won the 2016 election.

Earlier, in February 2016, Koza, with Scoolidge as his attorney, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against Shkreli, RZA, Azzougarh is Paddle8, alleging copyright infringement in the use of his illustrations in the book accompanying the album.

Koza said his drawings of Wu-Tang Clan members had been uploaded to a fan site dedicated to the group, and then used in the book without their permission.

The Wu-Tang Clan plans to release just one copy of their next album to the highest bidder.

Matt Kent | Redferns | Getty Images

Scoolidge told Reuters at the time that Shkreli “did not need to know” that Koza’s art was used without permission.

“There is no intent to infringe copyright,” Scoolidge said at the time.

Within two months, Shkreli had been fired as accused in the case.

Scoolidge told Billboard: “We are determined to leave the case against Mr. Shkreli for the time being because he is apparently indemnified by other parties to the case.”

Shortly afterwards, Koza voluntarily dismissed his claims against the RZA, Azzougarh and Paddle 8, without giving a reason in a court appearance. Scoolidge signed that dismissal notice.

Wednesday Scoolidge refused to respond because the case was abandoned.

In 2017, Shkreli was convicted of security fraud in connection with two hedge funds he led on the ground, and the first drug company he had founded, then called Retrophin.

In 2018, he was sentenced to seven years and imprisoned, and ordered to lose to the U.S. government a number of assets, including the Wu-Tang Clan album.

After the confiscation order was filed, an article in Forbes details the legal issues created by the order, and identified Scoolidge as the lawyer for album producer Azzourgarh

That article noted “the most fascinating question that arises now is the legality of removing a work that also belongs in part to Tarik ‘Cilvaringz’ Azzougarh and Robert ‘RZA’ Diggs, producers of the Wu-Tang album.”

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“In addition to holding 50% of the master recording, they also stipulated that the buyer of the album could not sell it until 88 years after the purchase,” Forbes wrote.

The article then quoted Scoolidge.

“The album contract was sold under Mr. Shkreli to link any new record label to all the same terms that were sold under it,” Scoolidge said.

“If and when it happens, my client [Azzougarh] could present documents in the confiscation procedure to enforce restrictions on the use of the album ”.

Scoolidge said The Wrap in March 2018, “My client’s intention is to maintain the status quo regarding the album … not to be sold commercially.”

“The taker must respect the same terms on which it was originally sold,” the lawyer said.

CNBC’s Jim Forkin contributed to this report.


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