The legendary one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has a new owner, and they’ve finally stepped forward. PleasrDAO, one of many Digital Autonomous Organizations created in the wake of the 2021 NFT bullrun, announced Oct. 20 that it struck a deal with the U.S. government on July 15, 2021, and obtained the album for $4 million.
Once the property of convicted pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has not only found a new home, but new life with PleasrDAO. Created between 2008 and 2013, and sold at auction in 2015, the government seized the album as part of a $7.4 million asset forfeiture following Shkreli’s criminal conviction.
Aquiring the most expensive work of music in history apparently took a group effort.
PleasrDAO is a collective of DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists who have built a formidable yet benevolent reputation for acquiring culturally significant pieces with a charitable twist.
Since the DAO purchased its genesis piece, pplpleasr’s Uniswap V3 NFT, the DAO has evolved and elevated its mission to collect digital art that represents and funds important ideas, movements and causes that have been memorialized on-chain as NFTs. PleasrDAO has set a precedent for bidding on unique pieces, many of which have powerful messages that transcend crypto.
Dubbed as an art collecting empire, the DAO is experimenting with novel concepts in digital and community art ownership. Its members are exploring ideas such as fractionalizing iconic pieces to be distributed to, and owned by, the community.
#Breaking Wu-Tang Clan album secured.
— ✨ PleasrCLAN (@PleasrDAO) October 20, 2021
Martin Shkreli, der CEO der Pharmaunternehmen Retrophin und Turing (Vyera), war der ursprüngliche Besitzer des Albums. Nachdem er wegen Wertpapierbetrug verurteilt wurde, beschlagnahmten die Behörden das Album.
Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind, unreleased album ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’.
The 74 members of the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) now share collective ownership of the album. The group purchased the sole copy of the album from the US federal government for $4 million at the end of July this year, collected it in September and moved it to a vault at an undisclosed location in New York. The DAO has minted the ownership deed as an NFT with the help of crypto savvy attorney Peter Scoolidge.
A collective of DeFi leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists, PleasrDAO is well known for tokenizing the original Doge meme and purchasing Edward Snowden’s ‘Stay Free’ artwork for 2,224 ETH.
The government came to possess the album in 2018 after seizing the assets of former owner ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli on fraud charges.
Darüber hinaus darf der Eigentümer das Album nicht vor einem großen Publikum abspielen, streamen oder gar online verbreiten.
Dieser Kauf reiht sich ein in andere PleasrDAO-Käufe von hochkarätigen digitalen Werken. Die Gruppe, die sich aus Sammlern der NFT zusammensetzt, besteht erst seit weniger als einem Jahr und konzentriert sich auf digitale Kunst, die Werte wie Transparenz und Anti-Establishment-Aktivismus widerspiegelt.
Vor „Once Upon a Time in Shaolin“ hat die Organisation das ursprüngliche Doge-Meme NFT mit Token versehen, so dass jeder für nur 1 US-Dollar so ein NFT kaufen konnte.
Der Pharmamanager ist dafür berüchtigt, dass er die Preise für lebensrettende Medikamente um bis zu 5.000 % erhöht hatte.
Shkreli kaufte das Album im Jahr 2015 für 2 Millionen US-Dollar und machte es damit zum teuersten Musikstück der Zeit. „Once Upon a Time in Shaolin“ liegt in Form von zwei CDs vor. Produziert wurde das Album durch Frontmann von Wu-Tang Clan RZA und Künstler Cilvaringz. Sie wollten dadurch gegen die Abwertung von Musik im digitalen Zeitalter protestieren, wegen der Musiker die Kontrolle über ihre Arbeit verlieren.
Das origniale NFT
Cilvaringz erklärte, dass dieses Album der Musik den Wert der Kunst zurückgeben soll.
Der Aufstieg von NFTs es möglich gemacht, das Album als ein einzigartiges Original zu prägen.
Das erklärt auch, warum PleasrDAO hinter dem Album her war.
Cilvaringz says they hoped that the album would “return music to the value of fine art— a mission finally possible in today’s environment, nearly a decade later with NFT technology and the ability to mint this album as a unique 1:1 original.”
For this reason, PleasrDAO’s interest in the album is self-explanatory, wrote ‘Chief Pleasing Officer’ Jamis Johnson in a blog post.
“Once Upon a Time in Shaolin in many ways is the OG NFT before NFT technology had made its way into the zeitgeist”.
Related:Original $4M Doge NFT meme auctioned off in 17 billion pieces
As for the future of the album, Johnson says PleasrDAO believes the “next chapter of the incredible story of this album should be Web 3.0 native”.
Should have been an NFT.
The DAO also paid some $5.4 million for a work from Edward Snowden and $4 million for the Wu-Tang Clan album.
A DAO (or decentralized autonomous organization) is basically a group organized formally around blockchain voting mechanisms to make decisions and invest capital.
A16z Crypto’s investment in PleasrDAO is not their first publicly announced bet on the organization type. In October, the firm made an investment in Friends With Benefits (FWB) DAO, which they valued at $100 million. Andreessen Horowitz did not disclose the size of their investment in PleasrDAO though council member Santiago Santos specified their overall stake of the DAO’s governance tokens was “less than 5%.”
Like many other crypto groups, PleasrDAO had a very singular ambition when it was formed — to bid on a work by a digital artist, in this case one by pplpleasr.
Santos says he has aims for the group to become a “Medici house” of NFTs “where a lot of digitally native artists can come and get initiated and discovered.”
“DAOs are almost the purest manifestation of what web3 and crypto are all about,” a16z GP Ali Yahya tells TechCrunch.
While a16z was early to crypto, the rise of so-called “crypto native” investment funds operating closer to founder and developer networks in the space has made it necessary for legacy firms like a16z to get bolder in backing new groups like DAOs. Andreessen Horowitz sees plenty of areas where they can help PleasrDAO including policy and regulatory concerns — an area where DAOs currently seem to be operating in a gray area of as unregulated investment funds of pooled capital.
A16z’s bet on the group is, in many ways, a leveraged bet on NFTs, which the group has already bet heavily on.
Said work was an animated video advertisement for the decentralized exchange platform Uniswap. The group formed in March after crypto founder Leighton Cusack tweeted a link to the auction and asked, “Anyone want to create a quick DAO to bid on this???” The group eventually won the bid at 310 Eth (some $525,000 at the time) with all proceeds for the purchase going to charity.
“Very quickly on, we thought, a lot of the smartest minds in DeFi are here — there is an opportunity to really take this in an interesting direction,” Santos tells TechCrunch. “I think, over time, the DAO grew to the point where we felt that we needed some more structure and hierarchy.”
The group has since continued making investments and bulking up its portfolio while aiming to discover new artists that it can support.
Laut Jamis Johnson, dem Chief Pleasing Officer der DAO, ist „Once Upon a Time in Shaolin“ in vielerlei Hinsicht das Original unter den NFTs, da es den Ethos der NFTs bereits verkörperte, bevor die Technologie überhaupt aufkam.
Die Gruppe möchte das Album, das 31 Titel umfasst, an das breite Publikum bringen. Um das zu erreichen, will die Organisation RZA und Cilvaringz davon überzeugen, dass sie weltweit Partys veranstalten, auf denen alle Besucher die 31 Tracks hören können.
Auf diese Weise glaubt PleasrDAO, die rechtlichen Beschränkungen des Werks einhalten zu können. Dazu gehört die Tatsache, dass das Album frühestens im Jahr 2103 veröffentlicht werden darf.
Außerdem darf das Album nicht neu abgemischt oder aufgenommen werden.
Guiding the album into the hands of a DAO gives us hope and excitement about the world of collective ownership, and we were honored to have played a part in the next chapter of this story.”
Though the anonymous sale was made public in July, PleasrDAO has kept its involvement under wraps until now. With the news finally public, PleasrDAO has revealed that in collaboration with 6 Agency, they’ve minted an ownership deed ahead of the sale, forever solidifying the transfer of ownership on the Ethereum blockchain.
Although PleasrDAO has noted their binding legal agreement prohibits them from duplicating or sharing music from the album digitally, they stated their intention via a blog post to look at the future of the album through a Web 3.0 perspective. “We firmly believe there are ways to share this musical masterpiece with the world,” shared PleasrDAO.
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