from staten island to tasmania


In a historic first, the sole copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s enigmatic album ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ will reportedly be played publicly at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania. The event, set to take place as part of MONA’s latest exhibition, Namedropping, marks a significant moment for the music and art worlds as almost no one in the world has ever listened to it.


Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan, a legendary hip-hop collective, created the album in 2015 as a unique piece of art. Only one physical copy exists, with the intent that it be considered a singular, valuable artwork. The album was sold at auction for $2 million in 2015 to Martin Shkreli, a disgraced figure perhaps best-known for his 2017 conviction for securities fraud. Following his sentencing and jailing in 2018, Shkreli was ordered to forfeit the one-of-a-kind album, which was subsequently sold by the U.S. government in 2021 to help repay the $7.4 million Shkreli owed from his conviction.

wu-tang clan monathe jeweled case for ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,’ Wu-Tang Clan | image © PleasrDAO



pleasrdao: the wu-tang clan album’s new owner


PleasrDAO, the new owner of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ had purchased the album with crypto for $4 million in July 2021. The group had subsequently released a video documenting the journey, its first listening, and its motivations for acquiring the one-of-a-kind work, noting, ‘after nearly a decade under wraps and in private hands, PleasrDAO purchased the complete album, with plans to oversee and fulfill Wu’s original vision.


According to PleasrDAO, the Wu-Tang Clan predicted the problems of streaming platforms, which act as middlemen by taking a cut of profits and leaving artists underpaid. Decentralization (Web 3.0) aims to fix this by allowing artists and fans to directly connect and share value, cutting out the middleman. It asks, ‘What better symbol to represent this fight than an album created to stand up against these establishment juggernauts?


Earlier this May, PleasrDAO brought the music ‘to the people,’ offering a unique private listening for Staten Island Ferry riders, which it filmed and published on Twitter. The album now has a dedicated website, which so far hosts only the following disclaimer: ‘In accordance with the contract set forth by the Wu-Tang Clan, the album will be released on October 8, 2103.’





‘once upon a time in shaolin’ arrives at mona


Although the album will not be released to the public until the year 2103, PleasrDAO has loaned the album to Australia’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to be debuted publicly for the first time as part of the exhibition, Namedropping. Visitors to the museum will be able to attend a live listening event to hear a curated, thirty-minute mix from the album. These events will run twice daily, from Monday to Friday, between June 15th — 24th, 2024. The exhibition, an exploration of contemporary art’s intersection with celebrity culture, will continue on until April 21st, 2025.


As part of its writings, PleasrDAO includes a comment by Cilvaringz, Producer and Conceptualizer of ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,’ which notes the spirit of the album: ‘The single copy concept’s primary intention was to incentivize a debate about the perception of music as an art form and how its monetary and experiential values were being smothered by digitization.


Seven years later, the NFT suddenly achieved to secure these values. At the very least, this album has encouraged the journey towards this solution for digitizable art forms.’


PleasrDAO brings the music ‘to the people’ on the Staten Island Ferry, May 2024

wu-tang clan monaPleasrDAO‘s first listening | image via ‘We Bought the Unreleased Wu-Tang Clan Album with Crypto’ video, 2021

wu-tang clan mona
photo by the United States federal government, original album design by the Wu-Tang Clan and album designers, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

wu-tang clan's iconic one-copy album will be played to the public for the first time at MONA
photo by the United States federal government, original album design by the Wu-Tang Clan and album designers, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons



project info:


exhibition title: Namedropping

album: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan

venue: Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania

exhibition dates: June 15th, 2024 — April 21st, 2025