Awhile ago, a lot of news outlets reported on how the agreement between Martin Shkreli and the Wu Tang Clan regarding their sale of the only copy of their album included the (supposed) wording:

The buying party also agrees that, at any time during the stipulated 88 year period, the seller may legally plan and attempt to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which, if successful, would return all ownership rights to the seller.

Assuming a contract did have wording in it similar to this, would this be legally binding? In a more broad sense, what are the limits--if any--to what can be legally binding within a contract?

  • Probably a duplicate of other questions regarding contracts. There are lots of limitations but the one that is going to make that provision void is that you can't contract to perform illegal activities. – Patrick87 Jan 15 '16 at 17:50
  • Gotcha, thanks for the info. I tried to find an answer to this but I couldn't find anything specific to this. – Aeolingamenfel Jan 15 '16 at 17:52

In general, you cannot contract to do anything illegal.

However, ...

An argument could be made that permission has been granted to, for example, enter property and remove the item. If permission has been granted, entering property and taking an item is not a crime.


First of all, generally speaking, one cannot enter into a contract for something that is against the law. Or rather, any such contract that had such a clause would be void on it's face. (or at least the offending clause...it might be separable).

So the "heist" would have to be conducted in such a way that it didn't break the law. i.e. a burglary would be an inappropriate way to "repossess" the recording, as it would be an illegal act on its face. HOWEVER...even if they did do a B&E and steal the recording, and this invalidated the contract...they could retain possession, but would have to give back the original price paid, because they themselves voided the contract.

Interesting idea. Problem is, there's an element of recursion in the reasoning.

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