AIDS Drug Baron Martin Shkreli Sued by Artist Over Wu-Tang Clan’s Album Art

The pharmaceutical executive purchased the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album in 2015.

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin... Photo: YouTube.
Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin...
Photo: YouTube.
BURBANK, CA - OCTOBER 02: L-R) Rappers Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Raekwon, RZA, Masta Killa, GZA, Cappadonna and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan pose at a press conference to announce they have signed with Warner Bros. Records at Warner Bros. Records on October 2, 2014 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BURBANK, CA – OCTOBER 02, 2014: Rappers Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Raekwon, RZA, Masta Killa, GZA, Cappadonna and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan pose at a press conference  in Burbank, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

AIDS drug baron Martin Shkreli is in hot water yet again. The 32-year-old pharmaceutical executive purchased a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album in May 2015 for a reported $2 million. Now an artist in New York is claiming that the group stole his artwork and included it in Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. And he wants all parties involved in the sale to pay up.

Jason Koza filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court against Shkreli, Wu-Tang Clan member Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (RZA), Marrakesh-based producer Tarik Azzougarh, and auction house Paddle8, claiming copyright infringement.

According to Reuters, Shkreli says he placed the highest bid during the online auction in order to “keep it from the people.” But as it would turn out, the sale of the album would come with bigger complications beyond its wildly unpopular 88-year commercial ban.

Jason Koza, <em>Ol' Dirty Bastard "Brooklyn Zoo"</em> (2014). Photo: Courtesy of Instagram

Jason Koza, Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Brooklyn Zoo” (2014). Photo: Courtesy of Instagram

According to the lawsuit, where Koza refers to himself as “one of the most talented portrait artists of the Second Millennium [sic]” as well as a “devoted fan,” he created nine individual portraits of the hip-hop group’s members in late 2013 and early 2014 and submitted them to a fan website. Koza claims he discovered in January that the 31-track album came with a 174-page book which features his portraits.

On February 1, he submitted nine portraits with the United States Copyright Office, which, the lawsuit states, “are currently being processed.”

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin... Photo: YouTube.

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin.
Image: YouTube.

As a consummate fan, Koza’s lawsuit refers to the group’s music as “a combination of inner-city America zeitgeist, Five Percenter dogma, social commentary, and cutting-edge production.”

Though the lawsuit outlines correspondence regarding the upcoming album between Koza and Azzougarh in April 2014, the complaint maintains that “Koza never granted a license for his works to be copied or displayed anywhere (else).”

Koza is seeking an unspecified amount from all parties for statutory damages.


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