Aug 16 • 10M

Chapter 15, Part 5: Free Shkreli

The final stretch of Martin Shkreli’s stay in prison was almost as eventful as when he was first thrown in.

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Appears in this episode

Christie Smythe
My experiences uncovering the story of, and falling in love with, Martin Shkreli.
Episode details

It would have been nice to cry into a bowl of ice cream, talk sh*t about Martin Shkreli with friends over copious wine, and forget about him after he broke up with me. But the reality of the circumstances made doing so impossible. I had practically thrown myself on the funeral pyre of his reputation by outing myself as his girlfriend; I couldn’t walk away from the ashes as if nothing happened. 

“You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube,” an editor at Bloomberg told me before I resigned from the company back in 2018. The phrase stuck with me. Not only was I publicly connected to Martin – “romantically linked,” as journalists so often write – I was emotionally invested in his mental and physical well-being. Both seemed to be constantly in jeopardy while he was in prison. 

Unhelpfully, as his days behind bars dwindled, his name suddenly popped up everywhere on the internet again. Twitter buzzed with chatter about when he might be released. Every week, someone – a journalist, a friend, a colleague, or a random person online – would ask me if I knew the date. I politely declined to tell them. I didn’t want the information seeping into headlines. 

The Bureau of Prisons typically allows nonviolent offenders to spend at least six months at the end of their sentences in a halfway house or home confinement.  Martin would walk out of the prison doors months before his release date listed publicly online – as long as the prospect of a media horde showing up outside didn’t derail the plan.

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