Chapter 6, Part 3: Hedge fund hustler
Arizona businessman Josiah Austin was an early investor in one of Martin Shkreli's first hedge funds. Things did not go well.
Like a lot of industries, the Wall Street hedge fund world is kind of a small town. People get reputations, they get intimately familiar with big-shots and competitors, and they cross paths and sometimes clash. Particularly when it comes to traders, the space is heavily populated with intense (and mostly male) eccentrics, laser-focused on beating the market and achieving massive money-making ambitions.
But even in a sea of capitalist weirdos, Martin Shkreli stood out. Michael Kimelman, a former hedge fund guy convicted of insider trading in 2011 (as part of a huge crackdown spearheaded by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office), wrote a book about his experiences from prison and described meeting Martin on one occasion in the early 2000s.
This was about a decade before Martin, as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, jacked up the price of a toxoplasmosis drug by 5,000 percent in a day, and became almost instantly branded the “Pharma Bro” and the “most-hated man in America” in the press.
At the time Martin was a biotech trader, known for his work as an intern for CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer’s hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz & Co. and for work with other Wall Street stars closely associated with Steve Cohen’s former multi-billion-dollar firm SAC Capital. (If you’re familiar with hedge funds, Cohen needs no introduction. If you’re not — well, maybe the best way I can explain is that the “bad guy” in Showtime’s “Billions” is loosely based on him.)
Kimelman described Martin as “freakishly skinny” and “on the spectrum.”
“His uncombed, wild hair fell over a disturbed child’s face,” he wrote. “The visual presentation…