While you may not know him by name, you have almost certainly seen Martin Shkreli’s smirk on the news or n the tabloids. He has been referred to as the most hated man in America and stands accused of securities fraud. He is the man best known for purchasing the rights to the drug pyrimethamine (Daraprim), which helps prevent infections in anyone with a compromised immune system, and raising the cost of the lifesaving pill from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. Now, you know who Martin Shkreli is, right?
Of course, just because you know who he is doesn't mean you really know anything about him. To make it a bit easier to understand the man behind the smirk, here are 15 things you don't know about Martin Shkreli.
1. His family was poor, but he never realized this while growing up.
Although Martin grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, his Albanian/ Croatian parents had only recently immigrated to the United States, after an arranged marriage. Employed as janitors, they had a very hard time supporting their four children, including Martin, who was born on April Fool’s Day in 1983 (which just happens to be the year of the pig, according to the Chinese zodiac). As of 2015, his parents were still living in the same Brooklyn apartment Martin had grown up in.
2. Presidential candidates want no part of him.
According to Donald Trump, Martin is nothing more than a “disgrace” and “spoiled brat”, while Bernie Sanders turned down his $2,700 campaign donation. Bernie, actually, took the money, but immediately donated it to an HIV clinic. Hillary Clinton attacked in a Facebook post and urged him to “Do the right thing.” Essentially, none of them want anything to do with him
3. In a bit of irony, he has been the “victim” of price gouging.
Just minutes after Shkreli was arrested for securities fraud in December 2015, his defense attorney, Harland Dorrinson, raised his fees an impressive 5,000% (which just happens to be how much he hiked the price of Daraprim). Instead of $1,200 an hour, he would now be charging $60,000, which Shkreli later called “outrageous and inhumane price gouging.” The attorney’s response, “Sixty thou is a bargain.” Not soon after Shkreli hired Benjamin Brafman, who boasts Jay-Z as a client, to represent him.
4. Though he thinks he will be fine in prison, he doubts that he will do more than two years tops.
In a January 2016 interview with Allie Conti, Shkreli reported that he felt like prison would be no big deal, after all when he was held in Brooklyn federal courthouse after his December arrest, he was given a quiet cell to himself. (Never mind the fact he wasn’t there for very long before he made bail.) In the same interview, he stated that he did not expect to get more than two years because, according to his claims, his investors did not lose any money. He also joked that he is “spending millions to influence the jury pool in Brooklyn. He does admit that the one thing he would hate about prison would be having to go without 24/7 internet access.
5. There is no love lost between him and Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan fame.
First, it is important to note that Shkreli once paid $2 million dollar for the only copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The owner could do whatever they wanted with it, except release it commercially. Fine, right? Here’s where the trouble started. In an interview with TMZ, Ghostface Killah had a few choice words for the Shkreli, which included calling him a “s*!^thead.” Martin countered back with a Tweet calling Killah old, irrelevant, and mad because his last five albums hadn’t sold that well. He also released a video entitled “Shut Your Mouth Ghostface Killagh…My Goons Will Take You Out.” By that time, Killah appears to have lost interest and the argument simply faded away.
6. He got his start on Wall Street at the young age of 17.
When he was 17, Shkreli became an intern for Cramer Berkowitz & Co.’s Jim Cramer. According to his LinkedIn page, he worked at the company from March 2000 to April 2004 as an associate. In 2004, he graduated from Baruch College (part of the City University of New York) with a degree in business and went to work for Intrepid Capital.
7. He has made some attempt to give back.
In March 2015, he donated $1 million to Hunter College High School, which happens to be his alma mater and the largest single gift in the school’s history. The gift was earmarked to provide funding for new teaching resources and technology for the school’s guidance and science department. It is interesting to note that Shkreli admits that he skipped a lot of school growing up.
8. Before he became infamous, he was simply looking for love on OkCupid.
Although his profile has since been deleted, you can view a cached version of the page here. On his page he described himself as a “native New Yorker seeks girlfriend. Intelligent, handsome, and all sorts of other good qualities. i am endlessly entertaining, providing comedic relief and artistic thought in one convenient package. What a catch!” Since he remains very single, we will assume no one was really blown away by his ad.
9. He is nothing if not a video game geek.
One of Shkreli’s favorite activities, by far, is playing eSports. In fact, he owns Odyssey Sports, a competitive gaming team, which merged with Team Imagine in August 2015. (He was the past chairman of Team Imagine, a League of Legends professional side.)
10. He is no longer involved with Daraprim whatsoever.
Not long after his December 2015 arrest on securities fraud charges, Shkreli resigned from Turing Pharmaceuticals.
11. He is currently being sued by the biotech company he started in 2011.
In 2011, Shkreli started Retrophin, an offshoot of his hedge fund company MSMB Capital. Unfortunately for him, in 2014, the company not only sent him packing, but they filed a federal lawsuit requesting $65 million in damages. So, what exactly had he done? According to the company, Shkreli paid investors with stock in his hedge fund, but failed to correctly disclose distribution plans and stock grants. In addition, the company leaked the fact he was being investigated for harassing a female employee, after he allegedly wrote a letter to her stating, “I hope to see you and your four children homeless and will do whatever I can to assure this.”
12. According to Shkreli himself, he was scammed out of $15 million when trying to buy Kanye West’s newest album “The Life of Pablo.”
In case you didn’t catch it when he purchased Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Shkreli is definitely a fan of hip hop. (He has been rumored to walk around singing Eminem’s lyrics.) So, it should not come as a big surprise that he once tried to purchase Kanye West’s album directly from what he believed was the singer’s label for a mere $15 million, which would have kept Kanye from releasing it to the public. In February 2016, he transferred this sum in bitcoin to someone known as “Daquan”, according to a series of Tweets he sent out. Unfortunately for Shkreli, Daquan had nothing to do with the album. There is no word on whether or not he was able to get his money back.
13. His apartment pretty much resembles a college dorm.
Though he is in his 30’s, Shkreli’s apartment doesn’t reflect his age. In a 2015 interview, his apartment was described as being outfitted with Ikea furniture, a computer (which he uses to live stream), an Xbox 360, guitars, and bookshelves filled with titles including Wine for Dummies andCliffsNotes for Ayn Rand. There is only one glaring difference. In his apartment, there is an actual Pablo Picasso painting. For fun, he likes to wheel around the vinyl floor on his Hoverboard.
14. His parents used his intelligence as a party trick when he was growing up.
According to Shkreli, he has always been smart. So smart, in fact, that his parents used to have him read aloud from Uncle Tom’s Cabin when he was a child to amaze relatives who happened to stop by for dinner.
15. His younger brother suffers from a form of treatment resistant depression.
Though he does not like to talk about him, Shkreli admitted in a 2016 interview with Allie Conti that his brother has such a debilitating form of depression that he can barely tie his own shoes and continues to live with his parents, despite being 28 years old.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker