Home / General / Man engaging in legal theft also indulges in the illegal kind

Man engaging in legal theft also indulges in the illegal kind




A boyish drug company entrepreneur, who rocketed to infamy by jacking up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750, was arrested by federal agents at his Manhattan home early Thursday morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded.

Martin Shkreli, 32, ignited a firestorm over drug prices in September and became a symbol of defiant greed. The federal case against him has nothing to do with pharmaceutical costs, however. Prosecutors in Brooklyn charged him with illegally taking stock from Retrophin Inc., a biotechnology firm he started in 2011, and using it to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings. He was later ousted from the company, where he’d been chief executive officer, and sued by its board.

In the case that closely tracks that suit, federal prosecutors accused Shkreli of engaging in a complicated shell game after his defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, lost millions. He is alleged to have made secret payoffs and set up sham consulting arrangements. A New York lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also arrested early Thursday. He’s accused of conspiring with Shkreli in part of the scheme.

Yet more inspiring tales from the New Gilded Age:

Shkreli initially responded to the criticism by saying he would lower the Daraprim price and then changed his mind again. When Hillary Clinton tried one more time last month to get him to cut the cost, he dismissed her with the tweet “lol.” At a Forbes summit in New York this month, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, he said if he could have done it over, “I probably would have raised the price higher,” adding, “my investors expect me to maximize profits.”

In fact, it is not only his drug pricing that has turned him into an object of public derision. He recently spent millions on the only copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album that music fans would love to hear and then told Bloomberg Businessweek that he had no immediate plans to listen to it. He spars often on Twitter and message boards, parading his business strategies, musical tastes and politics; he live-streams from his office for long stretches.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • J. Otto Pohl

    I am shocked. Next you will be telling me that there was gambling in Casablanca during the 1940s.

    • Breadbaker

      Your winnings, sir.

  • Manju

    I blame rap music.

    • Craigo

      The style guide requires you to say “the rap music”.

      • Manju

        I can take liberties because I have a great relationship with the blacks.

        • Malaclypse

          The style guide requires you to say “the coloreds.”

          • sibusisodan

            I was going to protest that this is evidently not what Donald Trump’s style guide recommends.

            But then I realised that his style guide is bound to be yuuuger and classier, and thus not relevant to us mere mortals.

            • Manju

              But it’s fair to point out that Malaclypse borked it up.

              • ChrisTS

                Well, he is a mere loser type, right?

      • ColBatGuano

        Is that the same as hippity hop music? AFAF.

    • Nobdy

      Shkreli attended the same high school, at around the same time, as Lin-Manuel Miranda, a rappist whose music has been promoted on this very blog.

      It must have been the sick beats of Hamilton that drove poor Shkreli to his criminal activity. He was led astray by the rhythm!

  • Manju

    If Marco Rubio and Donald Trump had a baby…

  • BGinCHI

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder with visible Dickhead tendencies.

    Recommend brain removal.

    • Manju

      or pull up the zipper.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      The nice thing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is that it’s actually fueled by self-hatred and low self-image: if someone/ something isn’t pumping up their ego 24/7, it implodes. They desperately want to give off this impression of perfect happiness, but they’re basically beating themselves up every minute of the day. Martin’s got a rough few years ahead.

      • Stag Party Palin

        it’s actually fueled by self-hatred and low self-image

        At least in this case it is well deserved.

  • sleepyirv

    This investigation must have been going for a while and Shkreli must have known about it. So at some point he decided the best way to help his image before trial was… alienating every single human being in the country.

    Sharp guy, this one.

    • Malaclypse

      To be fair, the same strategy is working when Trump does it.

    • N__B

      It was an elaborate scheme to ask for a change of venue to somewhere he’s not reviled in the press. Since we do not yet have a permanent Mars base, he walks free.


      • J. Otto Pohl

        I think the KSA might work.

      • rea

        Since we do not yet have a permanent Mars base, he walks free.

        As long as he walks free on Mars, I’m okay with that.

        The Martian II–No Rescue This Time.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    What’s maybe even more astonishing: after jacking up the price X,000% for one of if not the only drugs that treats toxoplasmosis (mainly afflicting those with full-blown AIDS), and all the negative PR that entailed, decided to do *the exact same thing* with one of the few drugs for Chagas’ Disease…which mainly afflicts rural Latin America. This is a man who looks at a stone and wonders how much blood he can wring out of it.

    Wu-Tang basically issued a public apology for selling him the album (to the effect of, “we didn’t realize he was this big an asshole”), and said they were donating proceeds (how much I don’t know) to charity.

    • Murc

      Wu-Tang basically issued a public apology for selling him the album (to the effect of, “we didn’t realize he was this big an asshole”), and said they were donating proceeds (how much I don’t know) to charity.

      This makes me happy, because the Wu-Tang Clan have been enormously pretentious about Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, and I’m glad to see their revenue stream from it take a hit.

      • Manny Kant

        If only they had actually included that heist clause in the contract! Then they could get it back and try again.

      • Judging by the most recent Wu-Tang releases, it’d be a miracle if the album is even listenable, much less the kind of masterpiece that would begin to justify all the hubbub. Maybe if it was Only Built 4 Cuban Linx part III.

  • MartinAlexander

    Two interesting points. One he is former intern of Jim “Mad Money” Cramer. Two he is just following the current version of our capitalist system to its logical conclusion, but he is doing it by being as brutally honest about it as possible.

    • so-in-so

      So, pretty much Donald Trump Jr.

      • Crusty

        I met Donnie Jr. once. He was, on the surface, not a total d-bag that I wanted to punch in the face. In fact, he was humble enough to just introduce himself as Donnie.* So, in that sense, Shkreli is way worse.

        *I suppose it might have been embarrassment too.

    • Yankee

      There’s nothing NEW about such colonialist behavior, except it would be more common to do it with food.

  • Bootsie

    RZA was apparently really really mad when it turned out he sold the album to a massive scumbag.

    Interestingly, part of the contract around the album is that the Clan has the right to steal back the album in a heist but only if they involve Bill Murray.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Apparently, if you have enough money, even the Wu Tang Clan is something to fuck with.

    • Murc

      Not quite accurate; either they, OR Bill Murray, OR themselves and Bill Murray, may steal the album back.

      If Murray doesn’t want to involve them he doesn’t have to.

    • NewishLawyer
      • Murc


        Let’s be fair, tho; this does sound like something the Wu-Tang clan would include in a contract.

        Hell, I hope Murray has seen it and that he, Ackroyd, Ta-Nahesi Coates, and RZA are already working on the script treatment.

        • Ben Murphy

          Presumably the heist was hatched during outtakes for this.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Smithers: “And when he planned to steal our sunlight, he crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy.”

    • JMP

      Bah! He’s a rank amateur compared to Doctor Colossus!

  • timb

    Reading the article, how does the son of immigrants who “worked as janitors” get into “an elite Manhattan prep school.”

    I literally just wanted to read about his fall and nothing else, so I refuse to do any more searching for that answer.

    • Nobdy

      It is an elite public high school. You just take a test and are admitted. It is free, technically a part of CUNY.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Free elite high school education? That’s market inefficiency! They should jack up the price for as much as they can get.

      • timb

        Thanks. Sounded like a private school

      • Manny Kant

        Just beyond that, most really elite private high schools take at least some scholarship students to make themselves feel like they’re doing something for the underprivileged.

        • NewishLawyer

          I know quite a few people who grew up with no money but received very elite and private educations because they were scholarship students from kindergarten all the way to university or grad school.

          • Lurker

            Having scholarships given to poor but promising young boys and men is a true and tried way of maintaining oligarchy. An oligarchy without new entrants becomes stale and degenerates rapidly. With scholarships, you can ensure that you get new blood, intelligent young people who are schooled in the manners and thinking of the oligarchy.

            It is not just doing something to the community. It is also about self-preservation.

    • N__B

      Fuck fuck fuck. I did not need to know he went to my high school. There are plenty of assholes there but he’s the first who’s made the national news as, specifically, an asshole.

      FWIW, Elena Kagan was there a few years before me and I was in the same class as her brother.

  • Nobdy

    I have to admit I was kind of enjoying his cartoon villainy, or would have been had he not been hurting real, innocent, people. Still it’s not often someone models their public personal after Lex Luthor.

    Part of me also hoped Shkreli’ antics would help fuel political demand for change. Instead he’s going down for fraud and the only people who will remember Shkreli are hip hop heads and the HIV patients he gouged.

    • rea

      Still it’s not often someone models their public persona after Lex Luthor

      I’m not the expert on these things others around there are, but I thought Lex Luthor put a great deal of effort into not having a public image like a cartoon supervillan. Luthor would secretly hire Shkreli to jack the price up 1000%, and then, with big public fanfare, buy him out and cut the price down to 500%, leaving Luthor looking like a great philanthropist.

      • Monty

        Pre Wall Street Crisis on Infinite Earths, Luthor and Shkreli were pretty much identical…although Luthor had cooler stuff and was generally less into unnecessary dickishness.

        • Murc

          They were not, actually. Pre-Crisis Lex Luthor was a scientist and inventor; he built suits of power armor and doom rays and suchly.

          Lex Luthor as a corporate titan, wearing suits and ties and orchestrating attacks against Superman from a boardroom instead of a volcano lair, is very iconic but is actually a fairly recent take on the character.

        • Martin Shkreli stole forty-one cakes.

          • Origami Isopod

            And that’s terrible!

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      I saw an op-Ed today making this exact point: he was almost singlehandedly pushing the country towards pharma reform, and they kinda hoped he beat the charges so he could finish the job. For the life of me, I can’t see how holding the patent to the only drug capable of curing certain diseases doesn’t violate anti-trust law, but I’m just a caveman, your world frightens and confuses me.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Do you want to explain the concept of a “copay” to Keyrock, or should I?

        To even remember that there used to be such a thing as antitrust law makes us cavemen nowadays.

      • IIRC he did not buy the patent. The drug in question is out-of-patent, and anyone can gear up to produce their own analog, but they would have to jump through a few regulatory checks and invest time + $$ proving that their product is bio-equivalent to the original (in the knowledge that they would never recoup the cost if Skreli dropped his price).
        His genius lay in seeing how safety regulations created an opportunity for rent-seeking.

        The answer, of course, is to ABOLISH ALL REGULATIONS.

        • Yankee

          Or buy from India.

      • rea

        I can’t see how holding the patent to the only drug capable of curing certain diseases doesn’t violate anti-trust law

        All patents would violate antitrust law, if it were not for the fact that antitrust law doesn’t apply to patents.

  • Robespierre

    “When Hillary Clinton tried one more time last month to get him to cut the cost, he dismissed her with the tweet “lol.””

    Which is exactly what happens on a larger scale when we rely on the good will of business.


  • Karen24

    He is an argument for making douchiness a federal crime. The cartoon villainy of jacking the price on the only two drugs that treat rare fatal diseases would be terrible on its own, but creating a public persona straight out of “Entourage” in addition should be an aggravating offense. His only equal in maniacal evil added to Maxim-magazine stupidity is Kim Jong Il.

  • timb

    So, what we’ve learned by hearing this stuff in the past leads my cynical self to imagine he will plead this to almost nothing, because Federal prosecutor’s will not have confidence in the jury pool understanding these issues. Unless the lawyer rolls on him, he will get away with a fine and probation. The civil suits will ruin him, but the movie deal will put him back on his feet.

    He will once again be a cartoon villain

  • The Temporary Name

    A New York lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also arrested early Thursday.

    His real name was Greedan Evel but it was hurting business.

    • Murc

      Greedan Evel was the third Rodian from the left in the cantina scene.

    • Bootsie

      I thought it was Looten Plunder.

      • N__B

        Hack ‘n Sack.

        • rea

          I once worked on a case involving the architectural firm of Frank & Stein.

  • Origami Isopod
  • ChrisTS

    No doubt someone has made this point, but I think the “he’ll get off because he’s [ostensibly]* rich” view might be mistaken.

    It’s one thing to rip off the rubes and poors – it is quite another thing to rip off the rich. They have teeth.

    * Because it is not at all clear how much he is worth, given his shell games.

It is main inner container footer text