The Wu-Tang Clan has sold the sole copy of its conceptual album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin…, through online auctioneer Paddle8 for an “undisclosed figure in the millions.” The album was purchased by an anonymous “American buyer.”
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin… exists in an edition of one and had been stored since its completion “in a vault at the luxurious Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco,” according to Paddle8. The group premiered a sample of the album—13 minutes out of a total 128—at MoMA PS1 in New York earlier this year. According to the terms of the sale—which created “previously unexplored legal protections for a unique work that cannot be reproduced,” in the words of Alexander Gilkes, Paddle8’s cofounder—the owner of the album may release the work commercially in 88 years, but not before then. Wu-Tang Clan has spent the last six months vetting offers from potential buyers, Paddle8 said in a press release.
“From the beginning, we hoped that this concept would inspire debate and new ways of seeing creativity,” RZA, one of the founders of the Wu-Tang Clan, said in a statement. “Both of those goals have been achieved, and the ideas continue to evolve.” He added that a “significant portion” of the group’s profits will be donated to a variety of charities, including The Truth About Cancer.
The sale marks an auction record for the price of a single album, with an acetate of Elvis Presley’s first song trailing far behind, having been purchased by musician Jack White in 2015 for $300,000. (An album by the Quarrymen, an early version of The Beatles, has an estimated price tag of $306,000, and is owned by Paul McCartney.)
Check out http://www.artnews.com in 88 years, and I’ll give you a full update in the form of a pithy blog post as to whether or not I find Wu-Tang’s album agreeable before, finally, succumbing to this cruel world.