Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and Martin Shkreli

In September 2015, 32-year-old former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli came under fire for purchasing licenses for medication used to treat cancer, malaria and AIDS, and then drastically raising their prices. One pill went from $13.50 to $750 per pill, an increase of over 5000%. Shkreli defended the hike by saying, "If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don't think that that should be a crime."

After a backlash that included criticism of price-gouging from all sides of the political spectrum (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump), countless medical associations, and anyone on Twitter who read the New York Times that day, Shkreli back-pedalled and announced that his company would reverse the increase. Two months later the company has quietly revised this announcement.

The hardcore music label Collect Records found themselves in an awkward position, when bands on the roster learned that Shkreli was the label's deep pocketed investor. Geoff Rickly, the label founder and lead singer of the band Thursday, said he was shocked by the revelation: "I've seen the guy give away money to schools, charities, and frankly, our bands, who if anyone really knows the industry, is a hard sell. I am struggling to find how this is OK."

The band Sick Feeling immediately announced their departure: "One thing is clear; as long as he has a part in the label, we, Sick Feeling, cannot. Our experience with Geoff, Norm, and Shaun has been nothing but positive, however, we cannot continue to work with Collect as long as Martin Shkreli has any part in it." Other bands released similar statements over social media and within days Rickly issued a press release explaining that the label severed its relationship with Shkreli, presumably at the expense of continuing on. Without Shkreli contributions (which were said to be around a million dollars) the financial feasibility of the label seemed unlikely.

Today has revealed Shkreli as the auction winner of the Wu-Tang Clan's last LP, which was released as, ah, an edition of one. The lavishly packaged single copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was sold via Paddle 8 on November 24, 2015, for two million dollars to what was initially reported to be a "private American collector".

Read the full story at, here.

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