In his first interview since bailing himself out on federal fraud charges, pharmaceutical warlord Martin Shkreli told the Wall Street Journal that he was only a big dumb butthead on the internet as a grand social experiment, which given the outcome, seems like it ended up being a very bad experiment.
“What do you do when you have the attention of millions of people? It seemed to me like it would be fun to experiment with,” Mr. Shkreli said in the interview. He said he was arrested “because of a social experiment and teasing people over the Internet,” adding, “that seems like a real injustice.”
“Quite frankly, it was not something I expected, and definitely not something I deserve given the facts,” he said.
Martin Shkreli saying that he was arrested not because he committed a number of extreme financial crimes but because he was instead a highly visible punchable schmuck might sound like denial of the strongest degree but in a sense he may not be that wrong.
Shkreli has reportedly known he was under federal investigation for much of 2015, dating back to long before he became a concern of people like us. But, in a reading of the indictment against him, Bloomberg’s Matt Levine argues that Shkreli caught the law’s attention because he couldn’t help but be Shkreli as a motherfucker:
Still, I can’t shake my sense of amazement that Shkreli seems to have gambled on redemption and won. If you believe the allegations in today’s indictment, he lost (or stole) all of his investors’ money, then lied to them to string them along, Ponzied it up by raising new money to keep them happy, and then finally found an investment that allowed him to pay off his earlier investors, with profits all around. He wasn’t caught because his scheme, like most such schemes, eventually crashed under its own weight. His scheme worked! He was caught, as far as I can tell, for being so abrasive about everything. How could shareholders not complain; how could prosecutors not go after him? Still, it is quite an accomplishment. If he is a securities fraudster, he should be an inspiration to securities fraudsters everywhere.
Later in the interview with the WSJ, Shkreli seems to indicate some sort of regret over his chosen internet persona:
“Most people don’t know the real Martin Shkreli,” he said. “I think it would make sense to show them.”