Talking to Martin Shkreli is neither easy nor enjoyable. The “pharma bro,” who once jacked up the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 a pill, likes to needle reporters. But I managed to get a few questions answered over email during the past week. And now that Shkreli has been sent to jail, it feels like a good time to share what I learned.
I reached out to Martin Shkreli when he first published his now infamous Facebook post asking for some of Hillary Clinton’s hair. It was this post, which he later labeled a “prank,” that got his bail revoked by the judge. And it’s the reason he’ll sit in jail until his sentencing in January of 2018 after being convicted of securities fraud. I asked Shkreli what he wanted to do with the hair and whether he considered this to be assault.
Shrkeli responded with irrelevant references to Peter Thiel, the man who bankrupted Gizmodo’s former parent company, and then told me over and over that he wanted my wife’s phone number, saying that I couldn’t “provide for her.”
“I NEED THAT FUCKING HAIR. ALSO SPIT ILL TAKE SOME SPIT,” Shkreli wrote to me on September 5th about Hillary Clinton, without answering the question of what he wants it for. I pressed him in a follow-up.
killary clinton is the greatest threat to national security. did you vote for her?
are you a legal/judicial expert? isn’t gizmodo a tech thing? maybe stick to things you know?
let me guess, you’re a recent college grad who is woke and liberal and you know everything?
do you have trouble paying ur rent?
I ignored his trolling and finally started to get some insights into why he was so reckless while awaiting sentencing. He truly didn’t believe that he was going to be sent to prison.
“I believe there will be no sentence of imprisonment. Please read the USSG and learn something about the law,” Shkreli wrote to me after I asked if he thought his bounty for Clinton’s hair would come up during sentencing. The USSG he was referring to is the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines.
I replied by asking if his sentencing date had been set yet.
no. i doubt the charges survive, anyway. are you familiar with the case? ever follow any legal case that didn’t have to do with social justice
also are you in antifa?
I ignored his trolling and asked, “Have people told you what prison is like? Have you consulted with anyone on how to operate once inside?”
of course! but the guidelines suggest 0-6 months so i’m really not worried. also given we live in a trump presidency, life is basically nirvana.
also if you do a little reading on all of this, it would eliminate the need for these questions. gosh matt, it’s like you’re not a professional or something =)
I pressed Shkreli on what he meant by life being nirvana under Trump. He replied that “trump is #1 A1 best president ever” and finally seemed to loosen up and said that if he really is sentenced “it will be a good opportunity to read and reflect and also i can make paper from inside.” But, of course, his email ended with his signature style: “NOW SET ME UP WITH DAT WIFE OF URS.”
“Making paper” presumably means that he’d be making money, not a DIY papyrus-production class in prison, though I didn’t ask him to clarify. You never know.
I responded by simply asking “What do you plan to read in prison?”
I think you are, once again, mistaken. You assert a proposition which isn’t certain. Please think and rephrase.
After playing childish games about rephrasing the question, I pressed him for a “top five” books he’d want to read in jail, and Shkreli finally answered. Sort of.
i would mostly read business reports from my companies and technical materials (medicine, computer science)
i read a lot so i’m not sure ‘top 5' works. i don’t read much fiction but i would probably bone up on philosophy
I then asked about the Wu Tang Clan album he had purchased for $2 million and was trying to sell on eBay. I asked whether he’d be able to bring it into prison if he hadn’t sold it yet. I also asked if he had a plan for acquiring various forms of entertainment like music and books once he was on the inside.
Shkreli replied that I should “get a grip on your liberal rage and educate yourself” and our back and forth pretty much devolved into him repeatedly insulting me and then me asking him whether he’d read anything from notorious conman and motivational speaker Napoleon Hill.
By the end of the day Friday, Shkreli was clearly in deep shit over his Facebook post about Hillary Clinton. The Secret Service had wasted resources looking into his $5,000 hair bounty and the prosecutors in the case were not happy. And that’s when Shkreli stopped replying to my emails. My last email to him was yesterday, before news broke that he’d been sent to jail.
“Martin, How you feeling today? Still pretty confident you’re going to stay out of prison? Do you have that list of five books yet?” I asked.
Shkreli didn’t respond. I never did get to ask whether he’d be able to check email from jail. Martin, if you’re reading this, I’d still like to see that list. And if you need book recommendations, Gizmodo readers can probably help you out. Just drop us a line. From jail. The place you swore you wouldn’t need to visit.