Martin Shkreli: Price-Gouging Pharma CEO + Shmurda & Bronson Supporter + Aspiring Rapper?

In the dating world, we’re often encouraged not to judge a book by its cover. And that’s why we created The Know app—to help people cut through tapestries of bullshit and get the info they need to make smarter decisions about their current and future relationships. In some cases, you don’t need to look that far as some people have willingly put themselves on front street. One such person is Martin Shkreli...

Martin Shkreli, born on April Fool's Day, is a brash and oddly intriguing person whose unempathetic and ferocious brand of capitalism, unabashed misogyny and over-the-top persona are even reprehensible to Donald Trump. The 32-year old's rise and precipitous fall—and all the unusual details in between—couldn’t have been scripted by Quentin Tarantino high on bath salts. Let’s review those details:

  1. Shkreli's most infamous offense was his scheme to raise the price of vital HIV medication by more than 5000%—from $13.50 to $750 per pill. When asked on CNBC whether he’d make exceptions for people that couldn’t afford the medication, he responded with an expression as cold as a hooker’s heart: “no” followed by a trademark douchebag grin. Now, without diving into the minutia of the price increase, there’s loosely arguable business justification as well as precedent for more extreme price hikes executed by other companies. That said, the execution and optics here are different and Shkreli’s handling of the situation incited and perpetuated the public’s uproar.

  2. Shkreli allegedly orchestrated a web of securities fraud, essentially running a $11 million ponzi scheme in which he illegally used assets from one company to pay off investors and debtors from another. The claims are that, conspiring with his lawyer (also arrested), he used the business' capital and investor dollars as his personal bank account—and even illegally distributed shares of Retrophin (his former company) to his friends. Shkreli was arrested by the FBI and is now out on $5m bail.

  3. As you might already know, Shkreli recently paid $2 million for an exclusive copy of Wu-Tang's Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album. Asked whether he’d play it for anyone, he quipped: "I’m not going to play it for no reason. If Taylor Swift wants to come over and suck my dick, I’ll play it for her.” By the way, the double negative means that you do intend to play it. Just saying...

  4. Shkreli then threw shade at RZA after the Wu producer publicly expressed his discontent with Shkreli’s shrewd business practices. Shkreli threatened: "If he doesn’t think I have the resources to do something, he fucking doesn’t know me. If Ghostface can make people disappear, what the fuck do you think I can do?” He continued "I can get down. I don’t think RZA knows that. I think he thinks I’m some powder puff white guy CEO that’s got too much money. No. No, no, no. I definitely don't spend $2 million for nothing. That’s a lot of money, even if you’re Carl Icahn. I’d encourage him to shut the fuck up before he goes a little too far.” Them be fighting words! In another twist, note that the beef is partially fueled by the ongoing spat between the Wu and Action Bronson who Shkreli supports due to their common Albanian roots.

  5. Prior to being arrested for a web of securities fraud, Shkreli fully intended to bail out fellow Brooklynite Bobby Shmurda and finance his defense (the “Sh” connection makes this a natural fit). Certainly that would come at a cost. The opportunistic Shkreli, who's also a passionate hip-hop fan interested in releasing his own album (more on that here), has been frank in his expectation that Shmurda would have to record for him. Choreography for a Shkreli dance is underway. 

We suspect there's more to come in the Shkreli saga. Getcha popcorn!