The plans for Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind, long-in-the-works secret album, The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, just keep becoming more elaborate. Currently locked away in a hotel vault in Marrakech, Morocco, the group plans to sell just a single copy of the album, and have reportedly already received a $5 million offer for the exclusive ownership.
Today, the hip-hop collective launched a microsite in conjunction with the Paddle8 auction house specifically for the sale of the record, and it comes with a new revelation: Whoever purchases the LP will be unable to release it commercially for 88 years. The copyright in place contradicts previous plans, which would have allowed the buyer to do whatever they pleased with the record.
88 may seem like a random number, but not to numerologist enthusiast RZA. The Wu-Tang leader sees significance in eight as the collective originally had eight members; it’s in the name of the company selling the record; it’s the sum of the digits in 2015, the year the record is being sold; and when turned on its side, it’s the symbol for infinity.
Plans to tour the album through museums and charge visitors $30-$50 dollars to listen have also been scrapped, though it’s still an option the buyer may undertake. RZA admits that whoever purchases the record could also get around the 88 year copyright by simply releasing the album for free, but he doubts that will happen considering the amount of money involved.
“When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you’re buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it,” he explained in a Q&A on the microsite. “Owning a Picasso doesn’t mean you can sell prints or reproductions, but that you’re the sole owner of a unique original. And that’s what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is. It’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album.”
In fact, all backup copies of the record have reportedly been destroyed. The final box for the record will include a 174-page, leather-wrapped book created by a master bookbinder and containing the liner notes. The owner of the album will be the only person to see the full tracklisting, as well. British Moroccan artist Yahya, who designed the LP’s silver-and-nickel-plated box and jewel case, told Forbes he’s got one more piece to add to the extravagance, though couldn’t reveal any details.
More information about the lavish double album is expected to be revealed tonight when RZA and producer Cilvaringz hold a private event at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York tonight (March 2nd). Those in attendance will be treated to a never-before-heard 13-minute compilation of the record.