The Increasingly Weird Life of Martin Shkreli

Posted in Whatever Else on December 21st, 2015 by bill

So just a few days after I wrote about Martin Shkreli, in the context of his status as the owner of the only copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, he was arrested by FBI agents on securities fraud and wire fraud charges. As a result he has been in the news even more than previously, and the more I learn about him, the more I’m impressed by what a weirdo he is – in that special way that only billionaires can be weird, by virtue of having the resources to indulge their eccentricities to the farthest extreme.

The day after his arrest, Shkreli was back on the streets and back on the internet, live-streaming five hours of his life during which he played online chess, strummed his guitar, and browsed OKCupid dating profiles. Or so I am told. I am not going to enable Shkreli’s colossal ego by by watching that shit, curious as I may be; it’s bad enough I’m writing about him.

Frankly, though, I’m not sure which is weirder: that Shkreli likes to live-stream his entire life –  he has previously posted video of himself working on his computer, and even sleeping – or that people seem to care. On his part it’s just raw narcissism; what’s the excuse of the people who are watching? Morbid curiosity? Lifestyle envy? Or just a simple case of nothing better to do?

Shkreli clearly craves notoriety, perhaps even more than money, and doesn’t seem to care how he gets it. In that sense, casting himself as a heel in the increasingly professional-wrestling-like world of modern celebrity is a shrewd move. He also apparently takes some amount of inspiration from the world of gangsta rap, and no doubt considers himself a “gangster” of one kind or another, which makes his recent perp-walk something to brag about. Well. Hopefully he will be doing hard time soon, and we’ll see then how hardcore he is.