Martin Shkreli, the so-called “Pharma Bro,” won’t be seeing freedom for quite some time but he’s still got his swindle powers on deck according to an explosive new report. A journalist who broke the news of Shkreli’s arrest ended up falling in love with him, left her husband, and says she’ll wait on him to go free despite the mess it’s made of her life.
ELLE exclusively spoke with Christie Smythe, a former journalist for Bloomberg, who covered white-collar crime cases while living in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her husband, who also worked in finance. Smythe broke the story of Shkreli’s arrest in 2015 which lead to a conviction of two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud.
Smythe continued to follow Shkreli’s story and keeping in close contact with him in hopes of an on-the-record interview about his various legal issues, and ended up befriending her subject when she worried he could possibly harm himself but not before writing an obituary in Shkreli’s honor if he did go forward with the deed.
In 2016 shortly after starting the Knight-Bagehot Journalism Fellowship at Columbia University, Shkreli was the subject of one of Smythe’s papers. After Smythe shared the work with Shkreli, he then suggested to her to write a biography on his life, something that one of Smythe’s professors tried to warn her away from. In short, Smythe got too close to the story to the point that when she was on temporary leave to work on the book, she was still visiting him in court and connecting with his growing circle of supporters, becoming part of that inner circle herself inadvertently.
Smythe eventually divorced her husband, quit her job at Bloomberg, and is still unusually protective of Shkreli, calling his trolling and other antics symptoms of his anxiety. Since ELLE’s profile of Smythe has gone wide, folks are still trying to understand how a rising journalist threw it all away on a man whose major claims to fame are buying a rare Wu-Tang Clam album and swindling investors out of money with a villainous sneer.
We’ve got those reactions below. Read ELLE’s entire piece here.