Judge Puts Temporary Ban on ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli From Streaming Rare Wu-Tang Clan Album

A federal judge has put a temporary ban on “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli from streaming or disseminating copies of a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that he purchased for $2 million in 2015.

The ban, reported by CNBC, came just a day after PleasrDAO, the company that bought the album from Shkreli for $4.75 million, filed a civil suit against him in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York for allegedly holding on to copies of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.” The suit claimed that Shkreli had played the album on the internet as recently as Sunday and that his conduct violated forfeiture.

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Judge Pamela Chen made the ruling on Tuesday night, asserting that PleasrDAO “is likely to succeed on the merits” of the suit “or raise significantly serious questions going to the merits of the Forefeiture Order, violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act [and] misappropriation of trade secrets.”

Shkreli became a critical lightning rod after drastically increasing the price of an antiparasitic drug by 4,000 percent in 2015. That same year, he purchased “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which set a Guinness World Record as the most expensive musical work in history. Shkreli tried to sell the album on eBay in 2017 and sold it for $1 million, but was incarcerated for criminal fraud before the sale could be completed. The following year, the government seized $7.36 million in assets from Shkreli, including the Wu-Tang album, and in 2021 auctioned off the album to an undisclosed buyer.

According to PleasrDAO’s suit, the company claims that it bought the Wu-Tang album via two transactions, one in 2021 and another this year, for a total of $4.75 million. The complaint states that as part of originally purchasing the album, Shkreli entered an agreement for 88 years that prevented him from duplicating the work. But he apparently violated that agreement numerous times, reportedly bragging that he played the album on YouTube and burned copies for various people.

In 2017, Shkreli was convicted on one count of conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud, and was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined more than $70 million. He was released early in May 2022 and is permanently banned from working in the pharmaceutical sector.

Judge Chen scheduled a hearing for June 25 regarding PleasrDAO’s suit, which could result in a continuation of the injunction on Shkreli and force him to surrender any copies of the album he retained.

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