The web was set ablaze on Sunday night time by a viral interview during which a former reporter for Bloomberg Information described how she upended her “excellent little Brooklyn life” by falling in love with Martin Shkreli, a maverick hedge funder who rose to infamy earlier than being sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.
Below the title The Journalist and the Pharma Bro – a play on Janet Malcolm’s well-known discourse on journalistic ethics, The Journalist and the Murderer – reporter Stephanie Clifford described how “over the course of 9 months, starting in July 2018”, Christie Smythe – who broke the story of Shkreli’s arrest in December 2015 – “give up her job, moved out of [her] condo and divorced her husband”.
“What may trigger the wise Smythe to show her life the other way up?” Clifford requested. “She fell in love with a defendant whose case she not solely lined, however broke the information of his arrest.
“It was a scoop that ignited the web, as a result of her love curiosity, now life companion, isn’t just any defendant, however Martin Shkreli: the so-called ‘Pharma Bro’ and on-line provocateur, who increased the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000% in a single day and made headlines for getting a one-off Wu-Tang Clan album for a reported $2m.”
Shkreli, now 37, was convicted of two counts of securities fraud and one in all conspiracy in August 2017 and sentenced in March the next yr. In April 2019, he was moved from a low-security jail in New Jersey after the Wall Road Journal reported he was nonetheless operating his outdated firm, through a contraband cellphone. He’s now in a federal facility in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, due for release in 2023.
As informed to Elle, Smythe has divorced and left Bloomberg and now lives in a “shiny basement condo in Harlem”. She describes how her relationship with Shkreli developed from reporter and topic to one thing extra, to the purpose the place they shared a primary kiss in a jail guests’ room.
“I informed Martin I liked him,” Smythe informed Elle. “And he informed me he liked me, too.”
Clifford provides: “She requested if she may kiss him, and he mentioned sure. The room smelled of rooster wings, she remembers.”
“They couldn’t contact past a chaste hug and kiss, per jail guidelines, and have by no means slept collectively, however the relationship moved ahead by way of continued visits, cellphone calls, and emails.”
Smythe and Shkreli mentioned “children’ names and prenups”, Clifford reported, including that Smythe now refers to Shkreli as her “life companion” and supported his unsuccessful application for launch because of the coronavirus pandemic, during which he said he would dwell with an unnamed fiancee in Manhattan and work to discover a treatment for Covid-19. The piece additionally detailed Smythe’s makes an attempt to land offers for a guide and a film.
Many readers, nevertheless, hailed the story’s “jaw-dropping twist”.
Shkreli stopped speaking with Smythe, Clifford reported, when he discovered concerning the article. His solely remark: “Mr Shkreli needs Ms Smythe the perfect of luck in her future endeavors.”
Elle studies that Smythe responded to Shkreli’s remark by saying “‘That’s candy,’ quietly, not convincingly.”
Describing her personal response to Shkreli’s arrest again in 2015, the occasion which each gave her an enormous scoop and kicked off her personal private saga, Smythe mentioned: “I had the sense that there can be large schadenfreude.” Such was the tone of a lot response after her personal interview with Elle was printed.
“Right here’s one other method to have a look at this complete mess,” wrote Katie Rosman, a New York Occasions reporter. “Christie Smythe sells Martin Shkreli out for the celebrity and the massive guide deal. Makes use of him, goes for the cash, beats him at his personal sport. Worth gouges the hell out of him whereas he sits in jail. Fairytale ending for the pharma bro age?”
However there was additionally sympathy for Smythe from some commenters.
“I don’t care how unhealthy your love life has been this yr,” said the author Charlotte Clymer on Twitter. “If it doesn’t strategy getting ghosted by Martin Shkreli from jail after torching your profession and marriage for him, you’re doing simply fantastic, Sweetie.”
In her personal tweets, Smythe mentioned: “I realise it’s onerous for many individuals to simply accept that 1. Martin will not be a psychopath, and a pair of. a girl can select to do one thing together with her life (which doesn’t have an effect on you) that you just on no account approve of. However that’s OK.”
She additionally wrote that “going public is such a aid, it doesn’t matter what individuals suppose. You haven’t any thought how onerous it’s to maintain this sort of a narrative bottled up. So messy and sophisticated. I’m glad it was informed effectively.”