The Wu-Tang Clan has recently come under fire from a disgruntled photographer, and he’s seeking at least $1,000,000 in damages from the group. The photographer, Warren Patterson, claims he spent 80 hours photographing the silver case of the ultra-rare album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin between 2013 and 2014, producing photos that would eventually be used by the Wu-Tang Clan as a version of the album cover. Patterson alleges that he had no knowledge of the group’s intentions to use his work, and claims he was never compensated.
The lawsuit specifically names Method Man, RZA, Raekwon, Cappadonna, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, and U-God as the defendants. The only comments on the case to come from any Wu-Tang representatives come from a rep for Method Man, who told The Blast, “”Method Man did not select nor authorize the photography used on the Wu-Tang album.”
For those that aren’t familiar with the album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is a double album by the Wu-Tang Clan that was limited to a single copy, which was sold in 2015. The album itself comes with restrictions, noting that it cannot be commercially exploited until the year 2103. However, it can be played during listening parties, or released for free.
It is the single most expensive album ever sold, selling for $2,000,000 through auction house Paddle8 in 2015. The purchaser of the album was revealed to be the notorious Martin Shkreli, who was a hedge fund manager who was convicted of securities fraud and gained notoriety when he decided to price gouge the anti-infective drug Daraprim, increasing the price by 5,000 percent.
Since his purchase, the album has been turned over to Attorney General Jeff Sessions after a seizure of Shkreli’s assets once he was convicted of securities fraud. According to Complex, the lawsuit filed by Patterson states: “the infringing copies of the Plaintiff’s works [were] delivered to a law office in New York County, New York by mail or courier service to be picked up by a purchaser named Martin Shkreli.”
It should be noted that, although most photos of the album cover online show the cover of the custom case that the album is stored in, Wu-Tang producer Cilvaringz posted a photo to his Instagram in September 2017 showing what he claims is the album cover to Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The photo does not seem to be one of the photos Patterson claims to have taken. See the post for yourself below.
On top of this one, the Wu-Tang Clan was slapped with an earlier lawsuit back in March by the ‘60s soul group the Diplomats (not to be confused with Dipset) for allegedly lifting the melody of their song “I’ve Got the Kind of Love” and used it on Wu-Tang’s 2017 track “People Say”. Stay tuned for more Wu-Tang updates.