Wu-Tang’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ To Be Played In Australian Art Exhibit 

Wu-Tang fans willing to travel to Australia will finally get a chance to listen to the one copy of its ultra-exclusive album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” thanks to a 10-day museum exhibit.

The rare album, released in 2015, is on loan to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) from June 15 to June 24 and will be played as a 30-minute sample during small listening parties, BBC reports. As part of Mona’s “Namedropping” exhibit,” members of the public will get a chance to hear the most expensive record ever sold.

“Every once in a while, an object on this planet possesses mystical properties that transcend its material circumstances,” Mona Director of Curatorial Affairs Jarrod Rawlins said. “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is more than just an album, so… I knew I had to get it into this exhibition.”

The legendary hip-hop group recorded the album in secret in New York City and produced it in Marrakesh between 2006 and 2013. “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” includes all nine surviving members of the group and features pop icon Cher and “Game of Thrones” actress Carice Van Houten.

After finishing the album, Wu-Tang aimed to combat the power of the online streaming era and how it has cheapened the value of music by using “a 400-year-old Renaissance-style approach to music, offering it as a commissioned commodity.” Designed as a piece of fine art, the album sits inside an ornate hand-carved nickel box and includes a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. The owner also receives a legal condition that they cannot release the 31 tracks for 88 years.

“It’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album,” Rza said, likening the record to a Picasso artpiece or Egyptian artifact.

Only a select few have listened to small parts of the 31-track album in the nearly 10 years since its release. In 2015, A group of potential buyers and media had the privilege of listening to a 13-minute section of the album before disgraced drug firm executive Martin Shkreli purchased the album for $2 million.

In 2016, Shkreli streamed snippets of the album on YouTube to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidential election win. Two years later, US prosecutors seized the album after the investor and businessman was convicted of fraud. He served over six years in federal prison and was fined over $70 million.

The album was eventually sold to digital art collective Pleasr, which purchased the album in 2021 for $4 million using cryptocurrency. They have since put the exclusive recording on loan to Mona for the “Namedropping” exhibit, which takes a deep dive into status, notoriety, and “the human pursuit.”

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