Wu-Tang Clan's Rare Album 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' To Go On Display, Fans Will Get To Hear A Curated 30-Minute Sample

Recorded in New York City and produced in Marrakesh between 2006 and 2013, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin features the nine surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Read on to know more

One of the greatest rap groups to ever take on the mic Wu-Tang Clan has a rare album which only few people have heard. The album is so valuable that it will be soon be displayed at an Australian gallery, giving the public a glimpse of the uber-exclusive tracks.

Title Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the album was recorded secretly by Wu-Tang Clan between 2006 and 2013. It was earlier owned by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli. According to reports, the album is now on loan from digital art collective Pleasr for Mona’s upcoming exhibition Namedropping, which explores status, celebrity, and notoriety.

World’s Rarest Album

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, recorded in secret by the Wu-Tang Clan over six years, is housed in an ornate silver box and was designed to be a piece of fine art. Only a single CD copy exists. This record by the pioneering hip-hop group is the most expensive ever sold.

The album comes with a leather-bound manuscript containing lyrics and a certificate of authenticity. There is also a legal condition that the owner cannot release the 31 tracks for 88 years.

For 10 days in June, Mona will host small listening parties where the public can hear a curated, 30-minute sample of the album. The album is part of the Namedropping exhibition, which explores status, notoriety, and “the human pursuit.”

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

Recorded in New York City and produced in Marrakesh between 2006 and 2013, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin features the nine surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan, along with pop artist Cher and Game of Thrones actress Carice Van Houten.

The group believed that the value of music had been cheapened by online streaming and piracy, so they decided to take “a 400-year-old Renaissance-style approach to music, offering it as a commissioned commodity.”

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When The Album Was Attempted To Sell On eBay

In 2015, a 13-minute medley of the album was played at New York’s MoMA for about 150 art experts, rap fans, and prospective buyers. Later, Shkreli attempted to sell the album on eBay, where bidding reached $1.2 million, but he failed to complete the sale.

After his conviction for securities fraud in 2018, Shkreli was forced to surrender the album along with other assets totaling $7.4 million. In 2021, Pleasr acquired the album from the U.S. Department of Justice for $4 million to cover Shkreli’s debts.

Producer RZA once compared it to a Picasso artwork, or an ancient Egyptian artefact. “It’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album,” he said when the album went on sale in 2015.

Know About Wu-Tang Clan

Established in 1992, Wu-Tang Clan is a legendary American hip-hop collective. The group includes iconic figures such as RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa, along with the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was part of the group until 2004.

They reshaped the East Coast hip-hop landscape and are renowned for their influence and innovation, making them one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time.