Shkreli's Wu-Tang Album Could Be Seized by U.S. Prosecutors
(Bloomberg) -- Martin Shkreli may have spun his last track on a one-of-a-kind album by the Wu-Tang Clan.
Prosecutors said Friday Shkreli should be forced to forfeit $7.4 million, which could include $5 million in bail money and the album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." Along with the disk set, which he bought two years ago for $2 million from the celebrated New York hip-hop group, the government said it may also seek a Picasso painting he owns, his Enigma machine from World War II, and his interest in Turing Pharmaceuticals AG.
Shkreli, assailed as "Pharma Bro" after dramatically increasing the price of a life-saving drug, was convicted in August of defrauding investors in two of his hedge funds and scheming to control shares in Retrophin Inc. He is being held in a federal lockup in Brooklyn, New York, and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. In a filing Friday, prosecutors list assets they can seize that would satisfy their monetary demands.
Long before his conviction, Shkreli’s purchase of the album sparked outrage among music fans. The former biotech CEO, known for provocative online antics, played short excerpts while live-streaming himself in his Manhattan apartment after President Donald Trump’s election and his conviction. It is thought to have never been heard publicly otherwise.
It’s unclear whether Shkreli is still the owner. The album was put up for sale on eBay in September and appeared to have been sold for about $1 million, although no buyer has been identified. The sale was completed while Shkreli was in jail, after his bail was revoked for posting a bizarre request on Facebook to pay $5,000 for a strand of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s hair. Prosecutors said the post showed he was a threat to public safety.
In his eBay listing, Shkreli said he has not "carefully listened to the album," and the work remains the subject of intrigue. A satirical musical was produced and performed in Manhattan lampooning Shkreli’s purchase of it, and a book on the "untold story" of the album by author Cyrus Bozorgmehr has also been published.
"We will vigorously oppose the government motion," Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in an email. "Our position is clear. None of the investors lost any money and Martin did not personally benefit from any of the counts of conviction. Accordingly, forfeiture of any assets is not an appropriate remedy."
Shkreli’s trial posed an unusual obstacle for prosecutors in that investors who were defrauded did not lose money. Some reported receiving well in excess of what they initially gave Shkreli. Prosecutors alleged Shkreli, who was chief executive officer of Retrophin, stole from the company to repay the investors, but he was acquitted of that charge.
The case is U.S. v. Shkreli, 15-cr-00637, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
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