The crypto collective PleasrDAO is making the headlines this week after they announced that they will be selling a piece of ownership of the secret album recorded by Wu-Tang Clan in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) that will be worth just $1.

The album, which is called ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’, captured the tabloids’ attention in 2015 after it was auctioned for $2 million. The winner of the auction? The controversial American investor known as ‘pharma boy’ – Martin Shkreli.

The Base blockchain, a layer-2 Ethereum scaling protocol created by Coinbase, has been selected by PleasrDAO for the distribution of the NFTs.

However, the crypto collective only owns 16 of the 31 tracks featured in the album, which it acquired in 2021 from Shkreli for $4 million.

Wu-Tang Clan Wanted to Keep the Album Secret Until 2103

Until today, there was an agreement between Wu-Tang Clan and the owners of the album to prohibit its commercial distribution until the year 2103. However, PleasrDAO representatives had been working behind the curtains with the producers of Shaolin to bypass this provision and commercialize the album before that date.

“This is the new technology that lets us actually bring ownership back to the digital world,” commented Leighton Cusack, one of the founders of Pleasr, during an interview with Decrypt.

Meanwhile, Matt Matkov, another representative of the crypto fund, told Decrypt that the idea behind commercializing these NFTs is to bring more mainstream investors to the space as they will surely be interested in hearing these tracks.

To buy the album, PleasrDAO is making available an off-chain payment interface that will facilitate the process for people who are unfamiliar with the use of crypto wallets and similar tools.

They will be able to purchase the NFT with a credit card via Apple Pay and a crypto wallet will be created automatically and the digital asset will be minted without hassle for anyone to enjoy.

Shaolin’s Colorful Story Starts with its Auction in 2015

The origins of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” can be traced back to 2007, when Wu-Tang Clan had the idea of recording a secret album and selling it as a single copy in protest against the devaluation of music in the digital age.

The album, produced in a span of six years by members of the legendary hip-hop group, was initially auctioned off in 2015 and ended up in the hands of the infamous former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli who offered $2 million to buy it.

Shkreli’s controversial actions, including hiking the price of a life-saving drug by over 4,000%, eventually led to his conviction on securities fraud charges in 2017. As part of the sentencing, Shkreli was forced to forfeit many of his assets, including this unique Wu-Tang album, which was seized by the US government.

In 2021, PleasrDAO acquired the album in a private sale from the US government for a staggering $4 million, becoming the latest custodian of this controversial piece of music history.

“It was quite a good story; all anyone knew was that this mysterious album was being held by the U.S. government. That’s some sexy shit,” Cyrus Bozorgmehr, a consultant who worked alongside Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, one of the producers of the album.

“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” Jamis Johnson, the Chief Pleasing Officer for PleasrDAO, told Rolling Stone in 2021 in regards to the collective’s decision to purchase the unique album.

Bringing the Album to the Masses

Now, PleasrDAO has unveiled an ambitious plan to make “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” accessible to a wider audience through the sale of encrypted NFTs. Starting today, fans and collectors can purchase the encrypted album for just $1 through a dedicated website.

PleasrDAO has joined forces with Privy, Crossmint, and Holograph to get some help with the distribution of the non-fungible tokens (NFTs), aiming to leverage their expertise in the blockchain and digital asset management spaces to reduce friction.

The plan is to gradually decrypt and share these tracks with NFT holders over time, effectively unlocking the music in a unique and unprecedented manner.

“This album was created to question what it means to value music in the digital world,” explained Cusack.

According to PleasrDAO, there are agreements in place for both the producers and artists who participated in the album’s creation to benefit from the sale of these NFTs. They will reportedly receive a portion of the revenues and will be allowed to perform some of the songs on live concerts and upload them to streaming platforms in the future.

PleasrDAO Takes the Offense After Shkreli Illegally Distributed the Album

The release of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” through NFTs comes in the midst of an ongoing legal battle to maintain the album’s integrity as a one-and-only edition.

PleasrDAO sued Martin Shkreli for allegedly retaining and distributing copies of the album in violation of an agreement that prevented ‘pharma boy’ from copying the songs for 88 years.

However, Shkreli repeatedly breached the agreement by playing some of the songs on YouTube videos and even burning copies of the album for third parties.

The legal procedure resulted in a federal judge issuing a temporary ban on Tuesday that forbade Shkreli from playing publicly or disseminating the album.

The DAO made this announcement as a rebuke to Shkreli’s treatment of the album, stating: “Our lawsuit was a last resort because Martin illegally released music without paying the artists whose work we agreed to steward. We will be legally releasing the music and ensuring the artists get paid in the process.