Martin Shkreli doesn’t sit still. Slouching in a modern black chair at the Manhattan offices of Retrophin, the biotechnology company he started three years ago, he fiddles with a keyboard connected to a wall-mounted monitor, multitasking even as he gives an interview. As he talks, he flips through a copy of the Journal of the American Medical Association. He tugs at the blue hoodie he’s wearing over a crimson golf shirt and jeans. He’s 31 years old but could easily pass for an undergraduate.
The child of working-class immigrants from Albania and Croatia, Shkreli skipped grades and landed his first job as a 17-year-old college intern for Jim Cramer, the hedge fund manager and host of CNBC’s Mad Money. Restless in his clerical role, Shkreli recommended shorting a biotech stock—betting the company’s share price would drop. Sure enough, it did. Cramer’s hedge fund profited, and the Securities and Exchange Commission called to ask if there’d been any funny business behind the prescient wager. At 19, Shkreli found himself under SEC scrutiny. The agency found nothing amiss.