Martin Shkreli, 2015’s "villain of the year," appears to have met his match in the federal government.
The pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager best known to rap fans as the terrible human being who bought the one of a kind Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, was arrested Thursday morning at his Midtown Manhattan apartment for conspiracy and securities fraud. Long story short, he's being accused of illegally pocketing millions of dollars from investors in his hedge funds.
While we certainly don’t celebrate the incarceration of any person, this one feels something like justice. For a guy who first came into notoriety as the man behind the inflated price of generic AIDS medication from $13.50 to $750, the fact that the Feds came sniffing doesn’t seem like a surprise. Just yesterday, HipHopDX released an interview with Shkreli detailing his plans to bail out Bobby Shmurda. Unfortunately for Bobby (once again), it doesn’t look like Shkreli will be spending that money anytime soon, and he certainly didn't help his cause by hanging up on the FBI when they came calling.
While the upcoming trial in general doesn’t specifically have much bearing on anything in the music industry, it does have some intricacies that might be of interest to rap fans, especially considering the plans Shkreli's laid out to become even more involved in rap as some sort of Godfather-entourage figure.
If there was an artist that was great and needed cash, I would fund him and not ask for anything in return. I would just throw the check down and say, “Go do your thing, don't forget who I am.” All I want in return is a little recognition and just friendship. I trusted you early, you make sure I’m backstage when you’re fucking selling out [Madison Square Garden] and just access. That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for.
In theory, if Shkreli bought the Wu-Tang album with money he allegedly skimmed, it could fall into the hands of the federal authorities, a plot twist if we ever saw one. While the album wasn't seized yet, it's future won’t be decided until Shkreli’s indictment, a fact brought up in a news conference with federal prosecutors and official with Securities and Exchange Commission. When asked whether the album was now in federal possession, US Attorney Robert L. Capers replied:
“I wondered how long it was going to take to get to that,” he said. “We’re not aware of where he got the funds that he raised to buy the Wu-Tang Clan album.”
If hip-hop doesn't have to deal with this guy ever again, and the investors he allegedly stole from get some of their money back, than today might just go down in the record books as a good day. We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.
[by Jake Krez, who kinda saw this coming. You can follow him on Twitter.]