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World’s rarest album to be displayed for first time 10 years after secret recording

Wu-Tang Clan
A hugely rare Wu-Tang Clan album is set to go on display next month (Picture: Getty)

Wu-Tang Clan fans, your day has finally come as their ridiculously rare album is finally set to go on display.

The group recorded secretly recorded their seventh album, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, over the course of six years – and only made one physical copy of it.

It was placed in a stunning silver box before being auctioned off in 2015, becoming the most expensive record ever sold.

Music lovers could previously only dream of getting their hands on the offering but, thanks to the the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Tasmania, Australia, this could now become a reality.

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will be shown as part of the museum’s Namedropping exhibition, which explores huge names, brands, artists and musicians, and the ‘human pursuit’.

Mona has announced a series of intimate listening parties for the coveted album across 10 days in June, allowing fans to hear a ‘selection of tracks’.

Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin
The elusive album was recorded across six years and auctioned off in 2015 (Picture: Mona)

The website reads: ‘During Namedropping, the world’s only copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s fabled seventh studio album will be on display in the museum.

‘We’re giving you the chance to hear it, too. At least some of it.

‘We’ll be hosting a series of private listening events in Frying Pan Studios, where a lucky few will get to experience a special Mona-only selection of tracks from the album.

‘You hear talk about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: this is probably one of them.’

The 30-minute listening parties will run twice a day between June 15 – 24 – tickets will be available at 10am on Thursday, and are completely free.

Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin
It will be displayed at the Mona in Australia (Picture: Mona)

‘Every once in a while, an object on this planet possesses mystical properties that transcend its material circumstances,’ Jarrod Rawlins, Mona Director of Curatorial Affairs, said of the exhibition.

‘Once Upon A Time in Shaolin is more than just an album, so… I knew I had to get it into this exhibition.’

Wu-Tang Clan recorded the album between 2006 and 2013 and wanted to make a stand against the rise of online streaming, so decided to preserve the songs with ‘a 400-year-old Renaissance-style approach to music’.

Not quite content with releasing their record in a plastic CD case, the members instead opted to house Once Upon A Time in Shaolin in a hand-carved nickel box, with the lyrics in an accompanying leather-bound manuscript.

Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin
Only a few people have ever heard snippets of the tracks (Picture: AFP)

A single two-CD copy was pressed in 2015 before the master files were deleted.

To ensure that the album would be used with the intention that the group originally wanted, a legal agreement was drafted, stating that it could not be used for any commercial purpose until 2103.

The music became so rare that, as of today, only a few people have been able to here just a few snippets – in 2015, potential buyers were blessed with a 13-minute selection before Martin Shkreli purchased it at an auction, for $2million.

Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin
One CD was pressed and released, and the master files were then deleted (Picture: Mona)

Three years later, the controversial businessman was found guilty of fraud and forced to hand the elusive album to authorities, with digital art collective Pleasr then purchasing it.

Pleasr bosses said in a statement: ‘10 years ago, the Wu-Tang Clan had a bold vision to make a single copy album as a work of fine art.

‘With this single work of art, the Wu-Tang Clan’s intention was to redefine the meaning of music ownership and value in a world of digital streaming and commodification of music.

‘Pleasr is honored to partner with Mona to support RZA’s vision for Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.’

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