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Listen to the most expensive album ever in new exhibition.

Finally, you will be able to listen to Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the Wu-Tang Clan album that exists in a single physical copy but it will mean travelling to Tasmania and visiting MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art)

The silver box housing Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Mona in Tasmania will host listening parties so the public can hear the album for the first time. Photograph/ Courtesy of the artist, Pleasr and Mona

MONA has acquired the album on loan from the digital art collective Pleasr for its upcoming exhibition Namedropping, which opens on June 15th.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was recorded in secret between 2006 and 2013 and is housed in an ornate silver box. It reportedly features contributions from all surviving members of Wu-Tang Clan – and two appearances from Cher.

A single two-CD copy was pressed in 2015, and the digital master files were deleted. A legal agreement at the time stipulated that the album could not be used for any commercial purpose for 88 years, or until 2103. RZA said the number of years was chosen because there were eight original Wu-Tang Clan members. After all, the numbers of the year 2015 added up to eight, and a rotated eight is the symbol for infinity.

Under the agreement, the album can be played at listening parties. A 13-minute medley of the album was played to about 150 art experts, rap fans and prospective buyers at a single event held in New York’s MoMa in 2015.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was later bought at auction by Shkreli, who became notorious when he hiked the price of a drug used by cancer and Aids patients by 50-fold overnight. In 2018, after Shkreli’s conviction for securities fraud, he was forced to hand over the album as part of $7.4m in assets that were seized by a federal court, which also included a Picasso painting and the unreleased Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V.

In 2021 the US Department of Justice sold it to Pleasr for $4m to cover Shkreli’s debts, with the collective stating at the time that it would find a way to make it accessible to the world.

Its appearance at Mona will be the first time that the album has been loaned to a museum since the original sale



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