RZA on Martin Shkreli: 'He Has the Power to Do Something Really Cool'

"If he wants to be philanthropic, he can do something that can allow more people to hear the record," producer says of controversial buyer of Wu-Tang album

RZA thinks controversial pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli could "do something really cool" with Wu-Tang Clan's single-copy 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.' Credit: Isaiah Trickey/Getty

RZA is unconcerned with Martin Shkreli, the controversial drug-company CEO who purchased the sole copy of Wu-Tang Clan's LP Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and how he intends to enjoy the record. "He bought it, he can do what he wants," the producer said in an interview with Bloomberg. But, RZA said, the beleaguered exec – who was indicted on fraud charges after the $2 million purchase – could do something selfless with it.

"He has the power to do something really cool," RZA said. "If he wants to be philanthropic, he can do something that can allow more people to hear the record. If he concurs to that, it would be something really good for art and really good for the Wu fans."

Since buying the record, though, Shkreli has made hostile comments about RZA in interviews and has since said that he has not played the album. The Wu-Tang member shrugged off the exec's comments and said that they had met amicably before the sale. "We had a brief lunch," RZA said. "He did mention his love of hip-hop, and I mentioned to him the importance of what I think this record is to the legacy of hip-hop. Not even 60 days later, he put a strong offer in. ... We talked briefly about where he comes from, briefly about what Wu-Tang means. ... I couldn't measure if he was a guy in college or, I couldn't get it."

Asked if Shkreli's controversies, which include exponentially raising the price of a drug that treats HIV patients and allegedly committing securities fraud, bothered him, RZA said the buyer had nothing to do with the art. "The power of art is that so, I can never discriminate," he said. "If the greatest man in the world was the one who wanted to possess it, it would have been his objective. If my enemy came to an auction and was like, 'Yo, I want that picture of RZA just to throw darts at,' it's being auctioned. It's something I can never, ever at this age in my life, I can never discriminate who appreciates art."

The FBI arrested Shkreli in December and charged him on seven different counts, including securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A day after the arrest, in a surprising tweet, the FBI asserted it had not seized the Wu-Tang LP. That may change. Bloomberg reports that Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers is asking the court to compel Shkreli to forfeit "any property, real or personal." The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a similar lawsuit.