Remember Martin Shkreli? The “pharma bro” who jacked up the price of a drug by 5,000 percent overnight? Who paid $2 million for a Wu-Tang record and then made them hate him by taunting them online? Who is currently serving a seven year jail sentence for securities fraud? His strange and inexplicable life has taken a new twist. Elle sat down with former Bloomberg journalist Christie Smythe, who had her own surreal story: She quit her job and divorced her husband so she could be “life partners” with the most hated thirtysomething who’s not part of the Trump administration.
It all began, Christie told Elle, when she became the first journalist to seriously report on Shkreli’s dodgy deeds. She was the one who broke the story of his arrest on fraud charges in December of 2015. Rather than butt heads, the two became closer. A little too close. She soon found herself feeling sorry for him, even taking his defense. She claimed he “trolls because he’s anxious,” and because he “really, really wants to be somebody.” Even though she admitted to some that was “manipulative” to reporters, she couldn’t help but admit he’d “drawn her in.” After he was transferred to a prison in Pennsylvania, the New York-based reporter got a license so she could see him, even though she, as per Elle, “used to get panic attacks when driving.”
The Shkreli business slowly got to Smythe’s husband, and the two eventually divorced. It also got to her Bloomberg bosses, and she quit that as well. Her defenses “totally eroded,” she decided to go for it:
In the visitors’ room, “I told Martin I loved him,” Smythe says. “And he told me he loved me, too.” She asked if she could kiss him, and he said yes. The room smelled of chicken wings, she remembers.
At the time she had no regrets:
“It’s hard to think of a time when I felt happier,” Smythe says. “At first he’s like, ‘Can I call you my girlfriend?’ ” she says, and “this led very naturally into thinking about a future together.” Soon they were discussing their kids’ names and prenups. After Smythe worried about being too old to have children when Shkreli got out of prison, he suggested she freeze her eggs. She did so last spring.
There’s just one catch: When Shkreli found out she had been telling all of this to Elle, he abruptly severed all ties. When reached for comment, he gave the publication an ice cold response: “Mr. Shkreli wishes Ms. Smythe the best of luck in her future endeavors.” Smythe, meanwhile, sold the movie rights to a book she wrote about Shkreli, which itself has not, incidentally, been picked up by a publisher. She now works for a journalism start-up.
When the news broke, some — including fellow reporters — did not take Smythe’s side.
This one goes out to all of you ladies who believe you make bad romantic choices: at least you didn’t divorce your husband and torch your career for Martin Shkreli. https://t.co/zUP8Fz1r8q
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) December 21, 2020
Imagine a reporter came to you, an editor, and said "I just need to declare something: I fell in love with a source,” then you said, okay, what’s the damage, and she said “it’s Martin Shkreli.” How many times would she have to say it before you stopped laughing and called HR?
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 21, 2020
what a way to find out that martin shkreli and i are not exclusive https://t.co/rV5nvAgf3U
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) December 21, 2020
One person dug up an old Smythe tweet in which she either betrayed or joked about ulterior motives.
look, by most measures my life is a failure, but at least i'm not fucking martin shkreli to try to get to joe rogan.
so things could be going worse. i guess. pic.twitter.com/qoGN4t0XBQ
— not my real name. (@damagedamages) December 21, 2020
Some felt bad for Smythe’s ex-husband.
God imagine being the dude whose wife left him for MARTIN SHKRELI
— Bingus Hooters (@antitractionist) December 21, 2020
Somewhere there's a man in Park Slope who got dumped for Martin Shkreli and one of you single ladies better jump on that.
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) December 21, 2020
Others were not happy that they suddenly had to remember the name Martin Shkreli.
Me: the only silver lining of 2020 is that Martin Shkreli remains in jail and we have not had to think about him once.
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) December 21, 2020
You can read the full Elle piece right here.