Former Bloomberg News reporter Christie Smythe opened up in a viral interview about her peculiar path from reporting on “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli’s legal downfall to falling in love with him, leaving her husband and quitting her job.
“I fell down the rabbit hole,” Smythe told reporter Stephanie Clifford in the Elle magazine story posted online Sunday, noting she is “happy here.”
According to Elle’s story, Smythe quit her job and divorced her husband in a nine-month span between 2018 and 2019 after her relationship with Shkreli shifted from a reporter learning about her subject to a woman actively advocating for him in a way her employer deemed “unprofessional.”
“Ms. Smythe’s conduct with regard to Mr. Shkreli was not consistent with expectations for a Bloomberg journalist. It became apparent that it would be best to part ways. Ms. Smythe tendered her resignation, and we accepted it,” a Bloomberg spokesperson told Elle and reiterated to USA TODAY.
Shkreli, 37, was sentenced to seven years in prison 2018 for crimes that included lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, withdrawing more money from those funds than he was entitled to get, and defrauding investors in a drug company, Retrophin, by hiding his ownership of some of its stock.
A judge ordered Shkreli to forfeit $7.3 million.
Shkreli first gained notoriety by buying the rights to a lifesaving drug at another company in 2014 and raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He is also known for attacking critics on social media and offering a bounty to anyone who could give him one of Hillary Clinton’s hairs.
It was around the time of the trial that their relationship began to get murky. Some emails between the two were used as evidence in his sentencing, part of the reason she left Bloomberg. They kissed for the first time when she visited him in prison, soon after she quit Bloomberg, recalling to Elle that the room smelled like chicken nuggets. She froze her eggs last spring, worrying that she may be too old to have children by the time Shkreli was released from prison.
“I told Martin I loved him,” Smythe said. “And he told me he loved me, too.”
Smythe has not seen Shkreli in more than a year due to prison COVID-19 restrictions, but she still believes their relationship will prevail, despite a less than glowing response from Shkreli that Clifford relayed to her: “Mr. Shkreli wishes Ms. Smythe the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
“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 – will fork.”
She concluded: “He bounces between this delight in having a future life together and this fatalism about how it will never work. It’s definitely in the latter category now… I’m gonna try. I’ll be here.”
Smythe addressed the story in a tweet Sunday: “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.”
The story created a major buzz on social media after its publication, garnering reactions from a plethora of readers including fellow journalists and celebrities.
“This story is the only thing I want to talk about (right now),” tweeted New York Times culture and technology reporter Taylor Lorenz.
“I’ve been reading this for 20 min in an ihop and my waitress just asked me if I was ok because I ‘look terrified,'” added Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica reporter and CNN analyst.
“Yikes lol,” model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen tweeted alongside the article.
“That lady done blew up her whole life–a comfortable Brooklyn lifestyle, a husband, and a Bloomberg job–for a man who wished her the ‘best of luck in her future endeavors,'” wrote Zora magazine senior editor Morgan Jerkins. “Read the last paragraph of that story and you will either scream or your face will contort in ways you’ve never thought possible.”
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Martin Shkreli: Bloomberg reporter who left job for Pharma Bro speaks