If you're a hardcore Wu-Tang Clan fan, you can stop combing your couch for loose change and eating instant ramen: the single physical copy of the group's secret album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has been sold. Forbes reported the album's sale through online auction house Paddle8 yesterday afternoon, and later confirmed that the album had been sold to a "private American collector" for a total somewhere in the millions.
The auction house hasn't shared an exact number yet, but it confirmed that the price was high enough to make Once Upon a Time in Shaolin the most expensive single album ever sold. (It's breaking a record previously held by Elvis Presley — Jack White bought a rare version of his first song ever for $300,000 in January of this year.) The sale was actually made in May, but it took months for the buyer and the Wu to sort out the contractual language and protections surrounding the album. In any case, the sale price is high enough to make you feel a little better about shelling out an extra 10 bucks to hear the new Adele record.
It'll probably be a while before the public hears this album
Even though Once Upon a Time in Shaolin has been sold, it might still be a while before the public can hear it. There's language in the contract governing the album's sale that ensures it can't be released commercially for almost a century, after which point the buyer can choose to do whatever they wish with the music. Some of the artists involved with the album's creation have suggested the album could be taken on a "listening tour" through galleries and museums around the world, but no plans regarding such a tour have been revealed as part of this sale. At this point, it seems more likely that Once Upon a Time in Shaolin's going to take up residence in the buyer's living room or vault than in various international salons.
"We pioneered a new type of intellectual property regarding the sale of a work that is simultaneously physical and digital," said Paddle8 cofounder Alexander Gilkes in a statement. "This marks an exciting new model of distribution for the music world and we look forward to playing an ongoing role in this innovative model."