Dec 17 (Reuters) - A press conference announcing federal fraud charges against former hedge fund boss Martin Shkreli took an unusual turn Thursday with a question about a $2 million copy of a Wu-Tang clan album he bought in May.
Shkreli, 32, previously bragged to Businessweek about buying the only copy of the rap collective’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin”, drawing ire from music fans around the world when he said he had no plans to listen it. He spent the $2 million to “keep it from people,” he said.
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Robert Capers told reporters, “We’re not aware of where he got the funds that he raised for the Wu-Tang Clan album.”
They declined to say if the album had been seized.
Capers’ comments immediately spurred hopeful posts on social media from music lovers that the album might be forfeited by the Turing chief executive officer during his prosecution by the feds.
Twitter lit up with reaction to the arrest of Shkreli, who is even more reviled for hiking drug prices as he is for hiding the album. Shkreli’s critics used the hashtag #Karma to voice their support for the federal prosecution and hope that the Wu-Tang clan album could be heard across the world.
“Dear US attorney: all we want for Christmas is that Wu-Tang album - everyone,” wrote Twitter user @cbk_chi.
“If the government seizes the Wu-Tang album, does it run another auction, or just release it for free as part of our cultural patrimony?” asked @Matt_Levine.
“It would be the best twist ever if the Library of Congress ended up owning the Wu Tang album,” tweeted Journalist Ryan Teague Beckwith.
How the feds could reclaim the album through asset forfeiture was not detailed by the U.S. attorney, but the Wu-Tang Clan have already distanced themselves from Shkreli.
”The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Shkreli’s business practices came to light, said member RZA. “We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
But even if the album is freed for the people, some on social media have questioned if they’d listen.
“Maybe the Wu-Tang album is cursed and brings bad luck to all who listen to it? #TheRing,” joked @hunterwalk. (Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bernard Orr)