SMIRK (audio version)
Chapter 14, Part 2: The Fall of Phoenixus

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Chapter 14, Part 2: The Fall of Phoenixus

What would it take for Martin Shkreli to feel he had hit bottom? By mid-2023, the answer was still elusive.

Skipping ahead in the SMIRK timeline here, I want to talk a bit about Martin Shkreli’s life in the present — June 2023. It’s been a little over a year since he walked out of the low-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania (I was not there) and returned to New York City, first living in his sister’s apartment and then in a condo borrowed from a friend.

In that time, he has snapped back into many of his old habits: mocking journalists reporting on him, sleeping with every woman who feels a stir of intrigue about the one-time “most-hated man in America,” marinating in attention from the most offensive corners of the internet, shirking court-imposed responsibilities, and daring authorities to throw the book at him again.

Exasperated, a friend of Martin’s vented to me about how dismayed he was that the former multi-millionaire, now a cash-poor ex-con, did not grasp the seriousness of his predicament. Wherever Martin existed in his mind, it wasn’t quite reality. At times, he minimized his past mistakes, blamed others for his shortcomings, and let his destructive impulses call the shots. What would it take for Martin to hit “rock bottom” and realize he needed to change at least a little, the friend wondered.

The mythical Icarus falls.
Ok, this is Icarus, not a Phoenix, but I think you can get the thought process here.

Martin making himself into a lightning rod for outrage over corporate greed didn’t do it. Being convicted of felonies did not do it. Incarceration did not do it. Having his fortune taken by the Federal Trade Commission did not do it. A shockingly punitive court ruling banning him forever from the drug industry did not do it. So what other event on deck might bring him down to Earth?

As I watched headlines about him appear in my Google Alerts feed, I spotted the possible answer: bankruptcy.

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SMIRK (audio version)
My experiences uncovering the story of, and falling in love with, Martin Shkreli.