Martin Shkreli accused of copying one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album

<span>Martin Shkreli leaves after appearance on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in 2016.</span><span>Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP</span>
Martin Shkreli leaves after appearance on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in 2016.Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

The convicted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has been sued in New York by a digital art collective that said it paid $4.75m for a one-of-a-kind album by the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, only to learn that the man nicknamed Pharma Bro made copies and is releasing the music to the public.

Shkreli paid $2m in 2015 for the album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and gave it up to partially satisfy a $7.4m forfeiture order after his 2017 conviction for defrauding hedge fund investors and scheming to defraud investors in a drugmaker.

The plaintiff in the new lawsuit, PleasrDAO, said Shkreli has, since his May 2022 release from prison, told fans on live streams and the social media platform X that he kept and had shared the album, once saying: “I was playing it on YouTube the other night even though somebody paid $4m for it.”

PleasrDAO also said thousands of people tuned in on Sunday to hear the album on a live stream that Shkreli called a “Wu-Tang official listening party.”

Such activity violates the forfeiture order, amounts to misappropriation of trade secrets, and “greatly diminishes and/or destroys the album’s value,” according to the complaint filed on Monday night in federal court in New York City’s Brooklyn borough.

Wu-Tang Clan is a New York group that formed in the borough of Staten Island in the early 1990s.

PleasrDAO wants Shkreli to destroy his copies of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, turn over profits from disseminating the music, and pay compensatory and punitive damages.

US district judge Pamela Chen issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday night that blocks Shkreli from disseminating the album, or risk contempt of court. She may issue an injunction later this month.

There was no comment from lawyers who have represented Shkreli.

The plaintiff is displaying the Shaolin album this month at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania.

Shkreli, 41, became notorious and gained the nickname Pharma Bro when, as chief executive of his US company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, in 2015, he raised the price of the life-saving antiparasitic drug Daraprim overnight to $750 per tablet from $17.50.

He was released early from his seven-year prison sentence, but remains on supervised release.

Shkreli was banned from the pharmaceutical industry and ordered to repay $64m for antitrust violations related to Daraprim. A federal appeals court upheld the measures.

Reuters contributed reporting