A Decentralized Autonomous Organization, the PleasrDAO, is in possession of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’s” only copy. Did the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album finally find a rightful owner? The PleasrDAO tried to buy it using cryptocurrencies. The US government required dollars, so an intermediary stepped in, assumed the risk, and brokered the deal. This saga just keeps getting better and better.
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Once Upon A Time In EEUU, The Story Started Anticlimactically
In times of streaming services and constant availability, the Wu-Tang Clan saw the value of music as devalued. Dutch producer Cilvaringz brought the idea to the RZA, and little by little they both ensembled the clan. Not without controversy. The project’s concept was to bring scarcity back to music by making a 1/1 album that they were to auction as a piece of art. They did, and the winning bidder was… Martin Shkreli, arguably the most-hated man in America at the time.
Shkreli rose to prominence when his pharmaceutical company bought the patent for an AIDS medicine and spiked up the price from $13.50 to $750 overnight. When he got “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’s” only copy, he assumed the role of the villain. He loved the spotlight and wanted to keep it on him by antagonizing the Wu-Tang Clan in various ways. He threatened to destroy the album, to delete some parts, to livestream it for the world to hear even though the contract specifically said that wasn’t allowed.
The story slowly died down. A few years later, the US government convicted Martin Shkreli of security fraud. The sentence came with a fine, so, they seized some of his most valuable properties. The only copy of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” was among them. The New York Times completes the story:
“The federal government, which had seized the album to satisfy the balance of a $7.4 million forfeiture money judgment against Mr. Shkreli that was part of his sentencing in 2018. (Mr. Shkreli is still serving out a seven-year prison sentence.)”
New Owners, New Rules: Enter the PleasrDAO
Auction house Sotheby’s, who recently got into business with the PleasrDAO, defined the project as:
“PleasrDAO was originally formed to pool together enough capital to purchase pplpleasr’s Uniswap V3 NFT. They saw the significance of not only acquiring a piece by the artist, but something representing a milestone in DeFi crypto history. This small moment planted the seed that grew into PleasrDAO – a collective of early NFT collectors and digital artists who have built a formidable reputation for acquiring culturally significant pieces.”
They are a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, and the one-of-a-kind album belongs to them all. So, they created an NFT “to stand as the ownership deed for the physical album.” Each of the 74 members of the PleasrDAO owns a piece of the album, and each NFT symbolizes that. “We believe that we can do something with this piece, to enable it to be shared and ideally owned in part by fans and anyone in the world,” said the PleasrDAO ’s Jamis Johnson.
— ✨ PleasrCLAN (@PleasrDAO) October 20, 2021
To Rolling Stone, Johnson said, “We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level.” Can they do that while respecting the Wu-Tang Clan’s original wishes? Maybe they can. And they got Cilvaringz on their corner, who said that they were open to listening to the PleasrDAO ‘s ideas. Does that guarantee that the general public will be able to listen to the album? No, it doesn’t. But it gives us hope.
Choice Quotes About “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’s” New Situation
The PleasrDAO’s Jamis Johnson told The New York Times
“This album at its inception was a kind of protest against rent-seeking middlemen, people who are taking a cut away from the artist. Crypto very much shares that same ethos.”
Cilvaringz, “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’s” Main Producer, told the PleasrDAO:
“The single copy concept’s primary intention was to incentivize a debate about the perception of music as an art form and how its monetary and experiential values were being smothered by digitization. Seven years later, the NFT suddenly achieved to secure these values. At the very least, this album has encouraged the journey towards this solution for digitizable art forms.”
Cyrus Bozorgmehr, “who worked closely with Cilvaringz on the album’s initial rollout,” told Rolling Stone:
“You couldn’t play [the album] onstage at Coachella, but you could take out six really cool spaces across the world and do exhibitions with it where 200 people come at a time. And you would be able to sell tickets.”
To that, Johnson added, “We very much want to do that.”
Is the PleasrDAO getting into real-life events? Are they going to tour with the album as a central piece? Or will this all be done online? Whatever the case might be, there’s a very good chance that we will listen to “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” before the century ends. Fingers crossed.
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