A pharmaceutical executive who came under fire for increasing the price of an antiparasitic drug by more than 5,000 percent is the mystery buyer of the only known copy of the new Wu-Tang Clan album that was auctioned off for millions of dollars, a report said Wednesday.
Bloomberg Business quoted the executive, Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, as saying that the deal for the album, “The Wu — Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,’’ was closed before the drug-pricing controversy erupted. Shkreli drew public outrage for increasing the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 from $13.50 per pill.
“I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,’’ Shkreli was quoted by Bloomberg Business about the album purchase. “But by then we’d closed. The whole kind of thing since then has been just kind of ‘Well, do we want to announce it’s him? Do we not want to announce it’s him?’’’
The article reported that “someone familiar with the deal’’ said the Wu-Tang Clan sold him the album for $2 million.
Furor erupted in September after Shkreli’s company acquired the rights to Daraprim and raised its price overnight.
He drew the wrath of consumers, became a talking point in the presidential campaign, and spurred federal and state inquiries along with a dialogue about controlling rising drug prices. The pill’s increase is likely to take a pummeling at a Senate committee hearing into skyrocketing drug prices on Wednesday.
Wu-Tang Clan announced in 2014 that it would press just one copy of the 31-track double album the band had worked on quietly for six years and make it available for purchase to only one person. Last month, the online auction house, Paddle8, announced that it had sold the album for millions. It did not name the buyer.
“The ultimate buyer is a private American collector,’’ Paddle8 said then. “The buyer and seller agreed to the sale in May, and spent months finalizing contracts and devising new legal protections for a distinctive work whose value depends on its singularity.’’
The Bloomberg Business article quoted an emailed statement by the album’s producer as saying: “The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s (sic) business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.’’
On Wednesday, Shkreli retweeted the Bloomberg Business article and posted a live-stream of himself at his desk while listening to music and talking about work, with a suggestion that he might play the album.