Before I moved across the big pond, I made sure to do lots of New Yorky things: eat everything bagels, go to the new Whitney, ride on the handlebars of a hipster’s fixie, steal something of no monetary value from a self-promoter, kiss Lit Lounge and the lingering traces of East Village grit goodbye, tie up frayed threads of partners past and prospective. Characters I met at shows, on tinder, transferring subways, through friends and friends-of-friends and the claustrophobic scene that is NYC when you were raised a private school brat and your world in infinitely insular. But by far the New Yorkiest thing I’ve done is dating a fist-pumping hedge fund bro who is now tabloid-trashy infamous.
That’s right, kids. Freshman year of college I dated Martin Shkreli: unrepentant capitalist, quoter of Eminem lyrics, embodiment of douchebaggery. The most reviled man in America during this New-York-minute news cycle, which opportunistic politicians have played to their advantage. Martin and I dated long-distance when I was 18 and he was 19. He was working as a junior analyst at Jim Cramer’s Cramer Berkowitz, around the corner from parents’ Midtown apartment in the tenuous post-911 landscape, and attending Baruch College sporadically. His favorite bands were Thursday and Taking Back Sunday, his favorite word austere. We met on the bus home from a Green Day/Blink-182/Saves The Day show at Jones Beach the summer before I frolicked off to hippie dippy liberal arts college. Charming right? A teenage dream. Except it soon became obvious that Martin was a pathological liar, would pretend to cheat on me and brag about it to raise his value in my eyes, so I’d always feel like I was hanging on by a thread, could be replaced, would vie for his approval and forgiveness. Except it backfired, made me think he was pathetic, not desirable.
When we broke up for good, we kept in touch for a while. Had copious bouts of post-break up sex, as per indulgent college-aged kid protocol. I stayed with him for a day or two on the UES after he moved out of an apartment in the Olympic Tower that he had rented from a high school classmate who didn’t know what to do with his inheritance. And then I moved on, like a reasonably well-adjusted emerging adult human. Except when facebook became a thing, in November 2004, Martin began contacting me. First friendly, then increasingly inappropriate and desperate. Unwanted. In April 2008, a full 5-years after we had broken up, he sent me a facebook message alleging, “95% of the time i get off i’m thinking about you.” “ick,” I responded. And it didn’t end there and then.
Because he couldn’t summon my company with his alternately mopey emo boy and manic money-thirsty persona, he began begging me with obscene amount of cash. We’ll never know whether he was serious or bluffing. Either way a fist-pumping exercise in eighties-style douchebag bravado, an emaciated mouse of a man trying to beef himself up with an impressive portfolio, classically conditioned to the sound of the NYSE’s Closing Bell. Funny considering when we were together he never spent money on me unless his friends were standing by the sidelines waving him on, green with envy or antipathy.
See screenshots of relevant conversations below. The first set I copied and pasted from fb to gmail about a year ago, before this whole biotech big pharma price gouging scandal blew up. The next set I took directly from facebook earlier today to prove our correspondence is authentic. Unfortunately you can’t see his side because facebook has made his account, or at least the messages that were sent from it way back when, inaccessible. The third is a message he sent to me from his work email while running the hedge fund Elea Capital Management, further proof that I did in fact know this guy and have rebuffed his continued advances. Obviously I have redacted my last name from the screenshots; otherwise they are undoctored.
The final point of contact, which sadly I didn’t capture, was his attempt to refriend me on facebook this summer. (Never bothered to delete the request; facebook won’t allow me to access it now that his account is under investigation or whatever). I had unfriended him after he solicited me for prostitution and wouldn’t stop pestering me. Unbeknownst to me, his latest attempt came at around the same time he became CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. A friend in finance speculated the surprise contact could be explained by Martin’s sudden acquisition of cash to spend… on women.
Stay classy, baby.