Reporter leaves her husband and 'perfect' life for jailed 'Pharma Bro' fraudster Martin Shkreli

Christie Smythe, the reporter who broke the story in 2015 that notorious pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was under investigation for trading violations, has revealed she fell in love with him.

A financial reporter who broke the story of one of America’s most reviled fraudsters has left her marriage and her job after falling in love with him.

Christie Smythe, a journalist with the Bloomberg news agency, disclosed in 2015 that Martin Shkreli — dubbed the “Pharma Bro” for manipulating the price of medicines — was under investigation for trading violations.

The brash New York hedge fund boss, serving a seven-year jail sentence, was branded “a new icon of modern greed” after raising the price of a life-saving drug 5,000 per cent.

Smythe, 38, has now made headlines after revealing she fell in love with him while covering his story, despite being warned he was a “master manipulator.”

She has now divorced her husband and plans to start a family with Shkreli, despite only having kissed him during a prison visit. He is not eligible for release for another three years.

Smythe gave details of the affair to Elle magazine, in which she says her romance was a case of falling “down the rabbit hole.” Since the Elle article came out, Smythe has gone on Twitter to further explain her side of the story.

Shkreli, 37, was convicted of three counts of fraud in 2017, having looted US$11 million from his firm to bail out a failed hedge fund he ran.

Before his trial, his flamboyant lifestyle and unrepentant behaviour led to him being branded the unacceptable face of so-called “Big Pharma” corporate profiteering. He smirked when testifying to Congress about price fixing and sparred with critics on Twitter.

He even became a topic in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, with Hillary Clinton berating his outrageous “price gouging” and Donald Trump branding him a “spoiled brat.”

Smythe, who had had what she called a “perfect” Brooklyn life with her husband, said she got to know Shkreli before his arrest, when he gave her off-the-record interviews intended to demonstrate his innocence.

“You could see his earnestness,” she said. “It just didn’t match this idea of a fraudster.”

The pair also bonded over having had to struggle to succeed in the Ivy League-dominated New York rat race. Both, she said, had suffered anxiety as children.

Her husband warned her Shkreli was “using her,” and that she risked her journalistic integrity by having close contact with him. But she carried on, amid plans to write a book about his case.

During a journalism course she was taking at Columbia University, she even wrote “quite candidly about how he had so successfully drawn her in”, according to her tutor, who spoke to Elle.

She said their romance began after Shkreli was jailed, when they exchanged a first kiss in a prison visiting room (that stank of fried chicken).

The couple have not consummated their relationship, but plan to have children. Smythe has had her eggs frozen, in case she is too old to conceive once Shkreli leaves jail.

Smythe has left Bloomberg, who deemed her conduct unprofessional, and has sold film rights to her book proposal.

Whether the story will have a happy ending remains to be seen. When Shkreli learned of her interview with Elle, he stopped communicating with her.

— With a file from National Post

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques