We wouldn’t blame you if you’ve completely forgotten who Martin Shkreli is.
In fact, you have our undying envy and esteem if you willfully managed to block that depraved rodent out of your memory.
After all, this has been a year filled with greed, malice, and the shocking failure of the American healtcare system to come to the aid of those who need it most.
Shkreli embodies all of those things, so who the hell has the time or desire to give him a second thought these days?
But while it might seem shocking that anyone would think about Shkreli willingly, or even [voms in mouth a little] fall in love with him, Bloomberg News crime reporter Christie Smythe did exactly that.
In fact, she upended her entire existence as a sign of her devotion to Shkreli — and now, she’s sharing her jaw-droppingly batsh-t story with the world.
As you hopefully don’t recall, Shkreli became notorious during his time as CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical when he jacked up the cost of a life-saving drug for AIDS by patients by 5,000 percent.
From there, Shkreli devoted his life to becoming the internet’s most reviled troll, and to his credit, he was successful in that dubious endeavor.
You name a variety of douchebag behavior, and Shkreli took it to new heights.
He bullied and sexually harassed female journalists; he antagonized celebrities for attention; he even got really, really into Pokemon Go … it was an ugly time to be online
The peak of Martin’s trolling came when he purchased an exclusive Wu Tang Clan album and taunted fans by not allowing anyone else to listen to it. What a guy.
But it was two counts of securities fraud that got Shkreli sentenced to seven years in prison back in 2017.
And it was while covering his criminal trial that Smythe fell for man the world loves to hate.
In a recent profile in Elle, Smythe revealed that she left her husband and career to pursue a relationship with Shkreli, only to have the so-called “Pharma Douche” cut off contact while he was behind bars.
It was Smythe who first broke the news that Shkreli was under investigation by the SEC, and she says he “toyed” with her during his trial, promising her exclusive interviews and then giving them to her competitors and so forth.
“You could see his earnestness,” Smythe said of the moment she realized she was in love with Shkreli. “It just didn’t match this idea of a fraudster.”
Smythe reveals she was living “the perfect little Brooklyn life” with her then-husband when she began to form a close bond with Shkreli.
“Maybe I was being charmed by a master manipulator,” she says in retrospect.
She began to realize that the friendship was something more when Shkreli had his bail revoked after offering his Twitter followers $5,000 for a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair.
(And they say romance is dead.)
Smythe says that was the first time she put Shkreli’s needs ahead of her own as she checked to ensure that his cat was taken care of and that the authorities had provided him with his meds before she filed her story about the arrest.
Smythe began visiting Shkreli in prison, and she recalls that when she declared her love for him, they kissed while surrounded by “the aroma of chicken wings.”
(Again with the romance!)
“I still was in denial about it, but this really hit me hard,” Smythe told Elle.
She ended her relationship with her husband and got her driver’s license so that she could visit Martin following his transfer to a federal prison in Pennsylvania.
Smythe, 38, says she froze her eggs out of fear that she’ll be too old to have children by the time Shkreli (who’s set for release in 2023) gets out of prison.
So you can imagine her surprise when Shkreli cut off contact with her after finding out about the Elle piece.
Reached for contact, reps for Shkreli say he “wishes Ms. Smythe the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
“He bounces between this delight in having a future life together and this fatalism about how it will never work. It’s definitely in the latter category now,” says an apparently-optimistic Smythe.
“I fell down the rabbit hole,” she concludes.
“I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose.”
To her credit, that’s an apt metaphor — it sounds very much like she’s at the bottom of a deep, dark hole.
But hey, at least she’s happy about it.