U.S. prosecutors could seize Shkreli's $2 million Wu-Tang album, Picasso

Washington Post

Martin Shkreli may have spun his last track on a one-of-a-kind album by the Wu-Tang Clan.

Prosecutors said Friday that the former biotech CEO, who was convicted this year on securities fraud charges, should be forced to forfeit $7.4 million. That amount could include $5 million in bail money and the celebrated New York hip-hop group's album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," which he bought two years ago for $2 million.

Prosecutors said they may also seek Shkreli's interest in Turing Pharmaceuticals, his Enigma code-breaking machine from World War II and his Picasso painting. Shkreli became a focal point of national controversy when he raised the sticker price of a potentially life-saving drug by 5,000 percent in 2015.

Did Martin Shkreli pay $2 million for a fake Wu-Tang Clan album? »

Shkreli's purchase of the album had sparked outrage among music fans. Known for provocative online antics, Shkreli 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 The sale was completed while Shkreli was in jail, after his bail was revoked for posting a bizarre request on Facebook to pay $5,000 for a strand of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's hair.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.

'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's life in jail: 'He's not a popular person' »

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.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune
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