Defending champion for the title of World's Most Punchable Face, Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud recently reminding everyone to hug their children. What can be said about Martin Shkreli that hasn’t already been said? To some, he is about as close to a real-life mustache twirling, ragtime piano accompanied, dick dastardly kind of villain as anyone could get. To others, he is theorized to perhaps be a brilliant kink in the cog of the corrupt capitalist society, hell bent at turning the mirror upon the ruling class at great personal cost to himself. I’ve seen articles and interviews on both sides of the proverbial fence and it would appear the majority of the voices in his favor are only tentatively so. The structuring of the hook for those pieces seem to be capitalizing on the infamy of his persona to boost their own views. I personally don’t see him as incredibly polarizing; the dude carries himself as and makes the decisions of an immature teen with the moral compass of flesh-eating bacteria. To put it plainly, he is a malignant fuck trumpet, and here’s why:
Martin is the product of two, I’m certain, heavily shamed Albanian and Croatian immigrants. He dropped out of high school due to a reported lack of interest and yet somehow wound up getting an internship at a Wall Street hedge fund named the Cramer, Berkowitz Company at 17. Presumably a school for gifted young mutants, Shkreli defeated nearly all the other backsliding troubled youths at Baruch College becoming the supreme ruler of a silver-age, sleazy, underworld, probably.
He paid for that photo btw.
Seething with the immense power one can only achieve after defeating your Sith master, Shkerli chose his superpower, defrauding the exploitable. In 2003, while still interning with Cramer Berkowitz, Shkerli saw an opportunity to exploit the falling stock of a company by short selling it. Short selling is a morally questionable practice in the market, a ban for which has been considered and debated many times over the years. However, due to the irresistible amounts of money you can make from it, no ruling against it can be heard over the dump trucks pouring piles of cash into the accounts of anyone having trouble sleeping.
So as predicted, the company’s stock plummeted and Ole’ Martin made out like a bandit, figuratively and literally. Even at the tender age of 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated his advanced knowledge of the stock’s decline, but despite their suspicions, they couldn’t prove any wrongdoing by Shkreli. Three years later, Martin started up his first hedge fund, Elea Capital Management and fucked it up royally. He bet against a widespread market decline and lost. Lehman Brothers sued Elea when they couldn’t foot the bill for 2.3 million they owed for their position, and Lehman won. But in an incredibly display against the existence of Karma, Lehman collapsed before they could collect.
High off the cocaine and strippers like endorphin rush that only narrowly escaping your responsibilities can bring, Martin washed back some caviar with some Dom and founded a new devil-may-care corporation called MSMB Capital Management with the not at all new mission of, you guessed it, short-selling shares in biotech companies. In 2011, Shkreli filed requests with the FDA to reject a new cancer diagnostic device from one company and an inhalable insulin therapy from another. He then capitalized on the difficulties this created for the companies by publicly short-selling shares in those companies. In the same year, MSMB decided they would short sell 32 million shares in a medical company when a drug failing to get approved by the Food and Drug Administration poised that company for a sharp declined. The company managed to recover however, and again, Martin’s people had egg on their face and a large bill headed their way. Merrill Lynch reported over $7 million in losses and MSMB was throat-fucked into near oblivion.
Oh but he can.
Shkreli, with his seemingly infinite amount of rope from which to hang one’s self, created Retrophin under MSMB, which was pretty much a bullshit company that pledged to research treatments for rare diseases. Because MSMB was so biblically screwed, Martin needed a way to repay those that invested in his previous business and Retrophin was it. During the reign of Shkreli (shotgun that for a book title), which is surely referred to as the dark ages around the water cooler, Retrophin regularly committed stock-trading irregularities and other violations of security rules, continuing his same trend of harassing biotech company advances and short-selling their shares. He also learned a new trick, as if undercutting falling stocks wasn’t an odious enough way to turn a buck. Marty Mcfuckstick acquired the rights to Thiola, a drug used to treat Cystinuria, a rare disease that requires 10 to 15 doses a day to control, and immediately kicked it’s per unit price from $1.50 to $30 a pill. By 2014, Retrophin’s board of directors had enough of Martin’s shit and replaced him, prompting Martin to publicly resign. They then sued him for $65 million dollars alleging that the colossal ass hat had used Retrophin’s gains to repay the investors that had lost out on his aforementioned mistake that bankrupted MSMB. Not without sin however, Retrophin’s new leadership never corrected the price of Thiola after Shkreli left because: mmm, money.
Unfortunately, white-collar crimes aren’t sexy and take a long time to investigate, so in the meantime, Martin was able to start up Turing Pharmaceuticals. Borrowing from his newly learned trick from his time over at Retrophin, Turing was founded “to obtain licenses on out-of-patent medicines and reevaluate the pricing of each in pursuit of windfall profits for the new company, without the need to develop and bring its own drugs to market.” That essentially means, snatch up them old drugs and hike them prices, breh; and hike up they did. In 2015, Turing acquired Daraprim, which got approved back in 1953. The drug was used to treat malaria, parasites, and, oh yeah, fucking AIDS. It sold for about $13.50 a pill until Turing ‘reevaluated’ the price to be more appropriately $750 per pill; a move so close to the abyss, Bernie Madoff was likely jealous he hadn’t thought of it. It caught a huge amount of attention and backlash, even the U.S. House of Representatives called Shkreli in for a little chit chat.
When you see it.
Maybe at some point in his life you could argue that the jury was still out on this guy being completely devoid of ethics until you heard all the facts. But not the Jury that was out until recently on Shkreli’s fraud charges. You really should do yourself the favor of reading the full transcript of the more than 200 juror dismissals that occurred during selection prior to his trial which I will provide at the end of this piece, but I’ll share with you some of my favorites. Bear in mind, these were all said in a court of law:
When asked if they could be impartial, one juror stated,
“I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick.” - juror no. 144
Another juror stated:
“When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.” - juror no. 52
And my personal favorite:
“Your Honor, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything because — It’s my attitude toward his entire demeanor, what he has done to people. And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.” - juror no. 59
You can’t really blame them for their reservations. When you listen to how he handles himself in his livestreams, vlogs, and interviews, the thin veneer of bullshit that he apparently dazzled hundreds of investors with is quickly removed. Infact, Martin couldn’t restrain himself from rushing home to hop on his livestream soon after his guilty verdict was received so that he could solemnly pledge his heartfelt lessons: “It doesn’t seem like life will change very much for me, basically ever, I think I can get probation. I think there’s a decent chance that there’s a complete vacation of the charges for any sentence.” He also stated, “I’m one of the richest New Yorkers there is, and after today’s outcome, it’s going to stay that way.” He went on to say, “I think it's a sad day in this country where just being a flamboyant and personable figure results in saying, 'Look at this guy's records and let's see what we have on them."
You know, I see it now. He does kind of look like a dick.
I’m not sure I would describe anyone with the track record of Shkreli as personable. If you deconstruct his sentiment here, what he essentially is saying is that his personality was so large and his exploits so well known that he was unfairly targeted. So in a sense, everyone was speeding officer but because I drive a red corvette, I got a ticket. That is such an incredible indicator of his lack of introspection and morality, adopting a crowd mentality to excuse his wrongdoing and instead blaming the agency that caught him rather than admitting his fraudulent dealings and showing remorse. A man devoid of principles getting his comeuppance isn’t a sad day in my country by any stretch.
If you thought the this was over, please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. Maybe you could argue that he is just trying to make a living in a portion of the financial world that naturally lends itself to a legally and morally complicated part of society and he’s a decent guy when he clocks out. However as it turns out, much like Bobby Hill, boy ain’t right. Shkreli got reportedly banned from Twitter, a life event he boasted about, for repeatedly harassing reporter Lauren Duca via the social media outlet, cool. In an effort to completely ignore his lawyer’s advice to at least attempt to be more human and likable, Martin started buying up domain names consisting of the first and last names of reporters that voiced negative opinions about him. He then posted inflammatory comments about said individuals on the sites bearing their namesake and offered to sell the domains back to the reporters for at least in one instance, $12,000; which I guess is neat if you are twelve.
To further illustrate his steadfast commitment to remaining a faithful bottom feeder of society, Martin launched a new company with one of his long-time investment buddies called Gödel Systems, Inc. The company is said to be a professional software company leading in “providing data, workflow, and communications solutions for financial, law, and scientific professionals.” In the middle of his trial for securities fraud, Martin and by proxy Gödel, is asking for $1 million through debt offerings that are convertible into equity securities to fund Gödel. I know I’m on trial for fraud, but trust me, I’m being wrongfully persecuted because of my persona, give me more god damned money. Don’t worry about the multiple companies I bankrupted with poor business decisions, I always find a way to pay back my investors wink wink. Shkreli is a veritable shark responding to blood in the water and at this point anyone that funds this glittered moosecock deserves the inevitable financial enema they will undoubtedly receive. His newest venture is essentially a surefire warning to anyone in that industry. You can rest assured that if Shkreli has his name on a business, there is money to be made at everyone else’s expense.
Martin Shkreli - Flamboyant. Personable.
Note from the author:
During the drafting of this piece I was faced with the question of whether or not it was important to point out that there are far worse people out there committing similar and surely worse atrocities, financially and otherwise, about which nothing is done. I personally feel however it should be plainly obvious to any individual with their head above the sand that multiple examples of justice and injustice exist all around us in this world. Incidentally, I don’t wish to give credit to the exact same vein of logically fallacious reasoning and thinking people like Shkreli tout as justification for their actions or as the proof of bias governing agencies may or may not have been influenced by to see them charged.
As in countless organized crime dramatizations over the years, yes, it is fucking stupid to flaunt your earnings and affairs when you are in the wrong. And sure, a drug dealer with more public spending habits and carelessness towards their nefarious deeds will likely see a jail cell faster than a more humble and careful criminal. But is that really what you are fucking saying? This isn’t some rose colored, put flowers in soldier’s barrels view of the world either. The object of a just society is for everyone to be a decent human being, not a better shitbag. Being an additional asshole, no matter how obnoxious you were about it, still makes you an additional asshole. Oh, and if bias existed against you, the giant organizations or more careful individuals you were just trying to turn the mirror on, as you shamelessly asserted after your grilling by Representative Ted Gowdy, means all you accomplished, besides becoming obscenely rich at the expense of others, was take up said agency’s time with your bullshit which could have instead been dedicated to bringing those additional assholes up on charges.
Are we wrong? Are we spot on? Are there worse assholes we should write about? Tear it up in the comment section.
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