PleasrDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that purchases and collects art pieces with cultural significance, has sued “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli for duplicating a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album.

Shkreli acquired the Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” for around $2 million in 2015, but gave it up as part of a $7.4 million asset forfeiture when he was convicted for securities fraud in 2017. 

PleasrDAO paid $4 million in 2021 as well as $750,000 in 2024 to buy the album and the exclusive rights to the music, data, files and packaging. However, Shkreli has told his social media followers that he had kept and shared the album after his release from prison in May 2022, and even hosted a livestream on X Spaces on Sunday where thousands of people tuned in to listen to the album.

PleasrDAO has since served Shkreli with a lawsuit, accusing him of statutory misappropriation of trade secrets and alleging his actions would cause the DAO to incur significant monetary and irreparable harm.

Shkreli condemned the lawsuit and claims that the DAO never discussed the intent to pursue legal action with its members.

“I’m rooting Shkreli on this one. The case seems pretty weak as well,” said prominent crypto lawyer Gabriel Shapiro on X.

Shapiro noted that PleasrDAO acquired the IP [intellectual property] from a third-party years later, and that forfeiture orders aren’t supposed to extend beyond the sale of assets.

Among those in the PleasrDAO camp was Uniswap founder Hayden Adams, who said that “people complaining about DAOs suing don’t realize pleasr is basically a member owned museum.” 

In his view, it PleasrDAO’s actions were justified given their motive to protect IP rights, and the entity refers to itself as a DAO because many of its components and assets live on chain.

While both sides of the debate continue to play out on Crypto Twitter, the court has already granted PleasrDAO’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The court ruled that Shkreli is barred from using, disseminating, streaming, or selling any interests in the album, including its data and files. 

Shkreli has also been ordered to provide an inventory of the copies of the album he retained, records of the profits made from its distribution and show cause as to why the court should not seize all his remaining copies of the album.