Last year the 33-year-old was subjected to massive criticism when Turing obtained a license to produce antiparasitic drug Daraprim and promptly boosted its price by more than 5,000%.
It was a move that saw him being branded in the media as the most hated man in America.
But it’s not just pharma that has built Shkreli’s reputation. With a reported net worth of between $45m and $100m, the entrepreneur’s flamboyant spending has also hit the headlines. A keen hip-hop fan, Shkreli was revealed in 2015 as the buyer of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a one-off album from Wu-Tang Clan.
With a price tag of a cool $2m, it’s clear that Shkreli doesn’t mind digging deep when it comes to spending money on exclusive music. However, it appears that the businessman might also have a penchant for getting music for free, when the circumstances are right.
Rising from the ashes of the defunct private tracker OiNK, What.cd is currently the most prestigious music torrent site on the Internet, bar none. The site has a largely hand-picked userbase who in turn are allowed to invite friends. Somehow it appears that Shkreli managed to get on board.
Tweeting from Manhattan late Friday, Shkreli appeared to indicate that he was having trouble with his account on What.cd. This led him to start begging for an invitation to get back on the site.
Somewhat inevitably, people following him on Twitter decided this would be a good time to have some fun.
“Why don’t you use USE.net like a normal person Martin,” one asked, sarcastically referencing the Usenet system.
“Newsgroups?” Shkreli accurately responded. This guy clearly knows his piracy haunts.
As fans already know, What.cd prides itself on covering every musical genre in depth, while offering the rarest of rare releases. With that in mind, if only there was an individual with access to the rarest recording of all time who might upload that to What.cd in exchange for an invitation….
While Shkreli does some wild stuff, uploading Once Upon a Time in Shaolin to What.cd is probably going to be a step too far, even for him. However, he could do so if he wishes. He’s under investigation by the FBI but last year they revealed that they hadn’t seized the album.
#Breaking no seizure warrant at the arrest of Martin Shkreli today, which means we didn't seize the Wu-Tang Clan album.
— FBI New York (@NewYorkFBI) December 17, 2015
Contractually, the album can’t be exploited commercially until 2103, but according to Wu-Tang, Shkreli could legally give it away for free.
“It can be exhibited publicly and it can be given away for free. But it cannot be commercialized as a conventional album release until 2103. Even then, it will be the owner’s decision to release it or keep it as a single unit, not the Wu-Tang,” the group said following the album’s sale.
However, there is a bigger problem. If you’ve ever had a What.cd account, you can’t have another. Those are the rules and not observing them can get both you and your inviter banned.
Shkreli’s only real option is to head off to the site’s IRC channels and ask for his account to be reinstated. If the disabling of the account was for a minor issue, it’s possible they’ll just re-enable it. He might also try the “do you know who I am” routine to get some leverage, although that might not go entirely to plan.