Christie Smythe, the 39-year-old ex-journalist who was dumped by convicted “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli from prison, said they are still friends and she’s hoping to see him now that he’s gotten an early release into an NYC halfway house.
“I spoke to him a few days ago,” Smythe told The Post Wednesday just hours after Shkreli’s release from Allenwood state prison. “I hope to see him and give him a hug. I’ll always have feelings for him.”
The two were once so close that she had her eggs frozen (part of the cost of which was paid by Shkreli’s family while he was in prison) and they spoke about having children together.
But Smythe was reviled online after Elle magazine ran a story in late 2020 about how she “upended” her life — leaving her husband and her reporting job at Bloomberg News — for “one of the most hated men in the world.”
Smythe met Shkreli after she was assigned to cover him for Bloomberg News in 2015. She eventually broke the news of his arrest for securities fraud, and in 2017, Shkreli, now 39, was convicted of defrauding investors in a series of his hedge funds. By then, he was already a renowned and hated figure for jacking up the price of anti-parasitic drug Daraprim as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015.
Smythe said her relationship with Shkreli was platonic until she started visiting him in prison in 2018. The Elle piece wrongly painted her boyfriend as an arch villain, she added.
“It was such a slap in the face to the media establishment. The matter had been settled. Martin was the villain and that was that. Then I came along trying to humanize him a little and they were like, ‘Wait, this woman doesn’t fit the narrative. She must be crazy.’ “
Shkreli was so annoyed that she revealed their relationship to the media, he broke off their romance via a letter from his lawyer. But Smythe said he never cut her off completely, and they continued to converse by phone and closed-circuit prison email during the COVID pandemic.
“He was very angry with me when I went public but I was worried he’d get sick in prison and nobody would stand up for him because he was so hated,” she said.
Shkreli has since been barred from ever working in the pharmaceutical industry again. He has also been ordered to return the $64 million in profits that his firm made from price gouging.
Before COVID hit, Smythe and Shkreli often spent between four and five hours sitting opposite each other in the prison visiting room, she said.
“We talked about everything,” Smythe said. “The reason why Martin and I got in a relationship in the first place was we really like talking. He’s a huge nerd who inhales information. We’d talk about science, technological innovations and even his legal case because of my background as a legal reporter.”
Their relationship has never been consummated, she said, because prison visitors were allowed just two hugs and one close-mouthed kiss. Prison monitors scrutinized them throughout their visits and once Shkreli was accused, falsely she said, of patting her butt.
“It was extremely frustrating,” Smythe said of the hands-off prison visits. “At the time we were talking about a future together and having kids.”
Smythe, who left legacy media to work as a senior writer at a digital startup, is coy about how she envisions her future with Shkreli now that he’s out of prison — and will be released from the halfway house in September. Recently, Smythe started publishing a serialized memoir about their relationship called “Smirk” on Substack.
She said she’s been “seeing” a Colombian horror movie producer named Humberto casually but it hasn’t gotten serious yet. Meanwhile, she said Shkreli’s respect for her mind, intellect and opinions have empowered her to change her life for the better.
“Sometimes the guys who look good on paper and don’t have red flags are overrated,” she said.