Christie Smythe journalist doomed love relationship with Martin Shkreli Pharma Bro. How a reporter gave up an idyllic life & marriage for most hated man in the world.
Looking for love in all the wrong places? A former Bloomberg journalist who quit her job and left her husband to be with ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli, despite him being in prison until 2023, after, ‘falling in love with him’ while covering his white collar crimes on assignment has seemingly now being dumped by the man she gave everything up for.
Christie Smythe, 38, in an expose for Elle, says she was living the ‘perfect little Brooklyn life’ with her financier husband until she started covering Shrkreli for work in early 2015, when she broke the news of his arrest for securities fraud.
The former biotech investor had been charged with running a pyramid scheme to prop up his pharma empire and was already known as one of the most hated men in America for jacking up the price of a life-saving AIDS drug from $13.50 to $750.
Despite his reputation and crimes, the Kansas City, Missouri native told Elle she fell hopelessly in love over the next few years while getting to know her subject.
Her involvement with Shrkeli has seemingly now come to naught after the former biotech investor cut her off following her tell all, releasing a statement in which he said he, ‘wishes her well’.
‘I fell down the rabbit hole. I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose,’
Even Shrkeli’s own lawyer, Ben Brafman, said the relationship was not a good one.
Smythe’s ex-husband warned her he was manipulating her and her bosses at Bloomberg told her she’d lost her professional impartiality but she persisted with their relationship, visiting him in prison and defending him on Twitter, until it finally turned romantic after he was sentenced in 2018.
Since then, the hapless reporter who these days labors out of a Harlem basement apartment for a start up media outlet, says she has frozen her eggs to be able to have a family with Shrkeli, 37, when he gets out of prison.
Of note, both love-birds admit never having slept together, with Smythe saying she has only been able to hug or kiss her object of desire briefly in prison.
Smythe also hasn’t been able to see him for more than a year but she says she is ‘happier than ever’ and willing to wait for the former multi-millionaire.
‘I fell down the rabbit hole. I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose,’ she wrote in her expose.
Smythe explains first meeting the former wonder investor in 2015 soon after she found out that he was under federal investigation for securities law violations.
‘Maybe I was being charmed by a master manipulator,’
She had been told by a source that he was under investigation. When she called him for a comment, he told her she didn’t know what she was talking about, she says.
Then, after his arrest, he contacted her when he’d been bailed out of jail.
She says he told her: ‘I should have listened to you.’
They met in person four days later and she hoped to put together a profile on him for Bloomberg.
He came armed with spreadsheets showing, he claimed, where his investors’ money had gone.
‘You could see his earnestness. It just didn’t match this idea of a fraudster,’ she told Elle.
The pair met again where they bonded over their childhoods and the fact that neither of them went to Ivy League schools.
Smythe then wrote a paper for a class she was taking at Columbia where she described being drawn in by him and how he manipulated reporters to his advantage. Her professor told her, she says, that the lines had become too muddied for her to be impartial in her reporting of her case.
‘Maybe I was being charmed by a master manipulator,’ she said.
Nonetheless, she decided she wanted to write a book about him. In 2017, she drafted a proposal.
He then invited her to hear him speak at an event where he complimented her on stage, saying: ‘Even if you find an honest reporter—I made friends with one, she’s here right now.’
Shrkeli’s trial began in 2017. By then, Smythe had taken book leave from Bloomberg.
She went to court every day to watch the trial and sometimes sat with his supporters, she claims, to gain an understanding of who they were for her book. It was then she told Elle that she fell for Shrkeli.
Smythe explains her former husband who she would eventually leave for her new subject material, warning her: ‘He is just using you.’ The former spouse is also said to have told his then wife that she was risking her professional reputation by ‘getting too sucked into this bad person’.
By now Pharma Bro was in custody and Smythe began visiting her object of desire, admitting to once buying him $30 in snacks from the vending machine because didn’t know what he would like.
‘I told Martin I loved him. And he told me he loved me, too,’
By then the former Bloomberg reporter told her editors she could no longer cover the trial on behalf of the outlet while continuing to go to court and trying to sell the movie rights to her book, which publishers had passed on by this point.
After Shrkeli was sentenced to seven years, Smythe kept visiting him in prison and acting as an ‘advocate’ for him online. She defended him on Twitter so much that her editors hauled her in for a meeting.
She quit, agreeing that she could no longer be impartial.
She and her husband also decided that year to part ways. She does not attribute their divorce entirely to Shrkeli but says: ‘I’m not going to say it was wrong for him to be concerned.’
Smythe continued visiting Shrkeli but insists nothing physical had happened between them until then.
Then, in the visitors room, she told him she loved him.
‘I told Martin I loved him. And he told me he loved me, too,’ she told Elle. She then asked if she could kiss him and he said yes.
Since then, the former Bloomberg reporter says the
doomed pair discussed prenuptial agreements, with Smythe saying she has frozen her eggs to be able to have kids with him when he gets out.
Matters reportedly devolved when Shrkeli found out she was discussing their romance publicly, with the former biotech investor ceasing all communications with her.
At what cost love?
Smythe admits that not everyone has been behind the relationship, perhaps not surprisingly her ex-husband who believed Shkreli was ‘just using’ her and warned she was risking her journalistic reputation by ‘getting too sucked into this bad person.’
‘Maybe I was being charmed by a master manipulator,’ she ponders.
On Sunday Smythe tweeted how speaking out about the pair’s relationship was a weight off her mind.
‘I realize it’s hard for many people to accept that 1. Martin is not a psychopath, and 2. a woman can choose to do something with her life (which does not affect you) that you in no way approve of. But that’s OK,’ she wrote.
‘Going public is such a relief, no matter what people think. You have no idea how hard it is to keep this kind of a story bottled up. So messy and complicated. I’m glad it was told well,’ she continued in another tweet.
News of Shkreli being in a relationship while incarcerated isn’t a complete surprise.
In April it was revealed he was engaged although no names were mentioned at the time.
His lawyers then attempted to get him released from the minimum-security prison where he would then ‘work on a cure for the coronavirus.’
Shkreli’s lawyer claimed that he has been conducting ‘significant research’ into developing molecules that inhibit a coronavirus protein.
The warden at the facility denied his request.
As for Smythe, questions have been raised as to what degree the ‘relationship’ was two sided?
When Shkreli was asked to comment on the outpouring of love from his supposed beau, the statement simply read: ‘Mr. Shkreli wishes Ms. Smythe the best of luck in her future endeavors.’
Smythe defended Shkreli’s words despite him having appeared to have cut all ties with her.
‘That’s him saying, You’re going to live your life and we’re just gonna not be together. That I’m going to maybe get my book and that our paths will… fork up,’ Smythe said.
Shkreli’s scheduled release date from a low-security federal prison is September 2023 at which point a hapless Smythe who will be waiting on the outside will 41 years old – ready to have her frozen eggs exploded onto a brave new world…