NEW YORK, Feb. 9 (UPI) — Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli is facing yet more legal troubles with a lawsuit brought forward by a New York artist connected to his $2 million purchase of the only copy of the Once Upon a Time in Shaolin Wu-Tang Clan album.
Jason Koza, 34, said he is suing because he never gave permission for his graphic art depicting Wu-Tang Clan members to be used in the album. In a complaint filed Tuesday, Koza said he believed his art would only be used on a website linked to the rap group.
Shkreli bought the only copy of the album last year.
The lawsuit is based on arguments of copyright infringement and breach of implied-in-fact contract. Other co-defendants named in the lawsuit include Wu-Tang Clan leader Robert “RZA” Diggs, producer Tarik Azzougarh and the Paddle8 company, which auctioned the album.
“Mr. Koza was happy when his work appeared on the website and went about his life for the next approximately two years, continuing to create more original works of art,” the complaint reads. “On January 29, 2016, Mr. Koza became aware of a news article about a new Wu-Tang Clan album… The album included a 174-page book, which contained copies of Mr. Koza’s Wu-Tang Clan member portraits. This story only has one problem: Mr. Koza never granted a license for his works to be copied or displayed anywhere other than the WuDisciples.blogspot.com website.”
Koza seeks unspecified monetary damages in addition to profits from the sale of the album.
Last week, the embattled pharmaceutical boss generated controversy for invoking his Fifth Amendment right all but three times during a House Oversight Committee hearing on drug prices. Many argued his actions were disrespectful. Shkreli was subpoenaed to appear before the committee as he faces criminal charges over securities fraud. He repeatedly chose not to answer questions.
In August, Turing acquired Daraprim, which was first developed in 1953, and the company immediately increased the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 — a 4,000 percent increase.
In December, Shkreli, 32, was arrested in relation to a firm he founded in 2011, unrelated to the price hike he instituted for Daraprim. Prosecutors allege he illegally took stock from his biotechnology firm, Retrophin Inc., and used that to pay debts from unrelated business dealings.
Jason Koza v. Shkreli, Diggs, Azzougarh and Paddles8 NY LLC