Government Releases Rare Photos Of Wu-Tang's 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin'

By Kiyonna Anthony

January 7, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

Nearly thirty years after forming a group in the streets of Staten Island, Wu-Tang Clan is still one of the most revered groups of all time --- so much so that the Government can even appreciate the art that is Wu. On Wednesday, the United States government released never-before-seen photos of the group's polarizing project Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album.

Buzzfeed News obtained the rare photographs through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, nearly four years after the album landed in the government hands, courtesy of the previous owner, and viral "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli. In 2018, Shkreli, who became notorious for raising the price of a potentially life-saving HIV drug, was was convicted of fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison. Last July, the WuTang album was sold again to PleasrDAO, a “collective of DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists,” for a reported $4 million.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin contains 31 songs, was recorded in secret by the Staten Island hip-hop collective and only one copy was made. According to the Department of Justice, the record is considered both an “album and an artifact.” Back in October, WuTang head RZA expressed how much regret he felt when he realized the album ended up Shkreli, sharing:

“It was in the wrong hands. He made the deal before it was revealed of his character, of his personality, and all of the insidious things he would go on to do.”

The album includes a hand-carved, nickel-silver box as well as a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. Check out the rare photos above.

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