It’s about Pharma Bro versus the richest man in the world.
Martin Shkreli, who spent four and a half years in federal prison on securities fraud charges and was discredited for allegedly fixing the price of a life-saving drug, says he lobbied Elon Musk through mutual friends to give him something he believed he could in office, needs prison future: access to his original X account (formerly Twitter).
Shkreli tells FOX Business that since his release from prison in May 2022, he’s been trying unsuccessfully to regain access to his old account, which had over 250,000 followers before it died in 2017 over what he calls a “stupid mistake.” was suspended online feud with a journalist, which led to his ban.
In addition, he was forced to create up to 20 new accounts to remain active on the platform, Shkreli says. He says they’re constantly being shut down by X management, including “over a dozen times” since Musk bought the platform and privatized it in a $44 billion deal last October.
According to Shkreli, Musk’s actions do not fit with the Tesla boss’s mantra on free speech and his self-proclaimed reputation as a First Amendment absolutist. Shkreli points out that other controversial figures who have been banned from the platform, such as far-right political activist Laura Loomer and controversial rapper Kanye West aka Ye, have regained access to their accounts through Musk.
“Elon preaches free speech, but his actions show the opposite,” Shkreli said. “He now has a wife from NBC running the show (new X CEO Linda Yaccarino), so maybe he’s putting profit over principle now.”
He says he is an active he has not heard from Musk, despite several attempts to reach him, including through lobbying with mutual friends and celebrities who both men know.
He said he reached out to Elon Musk’s former girlfriend, singer Grimes, to plead his case. He later announced that he would pay someone $10,000 to have his ban lifted. In an Aug. 22 tweet, Grimes said she would intercede with Musk if Shkreli promised to be more ethical.
It is unclear if she did this; Grimes could not be reached for comment. Musk could not be reached for comment either.
Shkreli has several theories as to why Musk is giving him the cold shoulder. While running three former hedge funds, he was an active short seller, a trading technique that makes money when a stock falls in value. For years, Musk has feuded with short sellers who bet on Tesla’s demise.
Shkreli also notes Musk’s urgency to halt the development of AI, where computers perform tasks normally reserved for humans, to avoid what he calls “risks to society.”
But most of all, he thinks Musk is just jealous of his machismo. “I’ve been told by someone close to Musk that he doesn’t like other alpha males in the room,” he said.
The clash between Shkreli and Musk isn’t physical, at least not yet. Musk weighs about 90 kilograms, is 1.80 meters tall and is worth 255 billion dollars. He is known for his volatile leadership style while running legendary electric vehicle company Tesla and now X. On social media, he often picks fights with various public figures whom he sees as competitors.
He recently challenged fellow billionaire and ninth richest person in the world, meta-CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to an MMA-style cage fight. The two have argued with contradictions on social media, a date has not yet been set.
Zuckerberg, a regular jiu-jitsu martial arts practitioner and worth $105 billion, says Musk is all talk and no action. As he wrote on his Threads social media account: “I love this sport and have been ready to fight since the day Elon challenged me; If he ever agrees on a specific date, you’ll hear from me.”
Of course, Shkreli, who is 1.75 meters tall and weighs 75 kilograms, is not known for his physical assets, but for the things that caused him to stumble. He served more than four years of an original seven-year sentence in three different federal prisons on securities fraud charges, including New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center, where alleged crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial in October. He tells Fox Business he has some tips on how SBF can survive at the notorious Brooklyn facility. “He needs to befriend some of my Latino gang boss friends,” he said without elaborating.
However, Shkreli has never been charged for what he is perhaps most notorious for: increasing the price of the drug Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections. He increased the price of the pill by 5,455% from $13.50 to $750 per pill, becoming the poster child for greed in the pharmaceutical industry. The pricing controversy brought Shkreli notoriety and the nickname “Pharma Bro”. Shkreli doesn’t seem to mind. “The price (of a drug) should be whatever the company wants it to be…People think drugs grow on trees,” he added.
Since leaving prison, Shkreli hasn’t been doing badly at all. He is currently residing in a penthouse in Queens, NY due to his probation restrictions preventing him from living in Manhattan. He said he doesn’t want anything to do with pharma or hedge funds and plans his future as an entrepreneur with a focus on AI.
He has developed his own virtual healthcare assistant called DrGupta.ai, which he believes will help revolutionize the medical field by eliminating costly doctors and replacing them with bots that can handle routine medical questions and procedures.
“Doctors are the biggest cost to our healthcare system,” he told Fox Business. “AI should be able to cost-effectively handle more mundane requests.”
When he’s not plotting his business comeback and trying to get Musk’s attention, Shkreli says he follows politics, including the presidential campaign, and is a big supporter of Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination despite multiple criminal charges. He says he’s also friends with incoming Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who was an investor in Shkreli’s former pharmaceutical company Retrophin, now called Travere Therapeutics. Ramaswamy did not immediately respond to a call for comment; Shkreli described him as “my biggest investor”.
“It is clear from my experience that the legal machinery of government is appropriated by the motives of those in power, not by compliance with the law,” he said of Trump’s legal entanglements. “What they are doing to Trump is disgusting.”
As Shkreli left prison last May, he shared a selfie on Facebook with the caption, “Getting out of real prison is easier than Twitter prison.”
His frustration persists.
“Musk has been a savior to the likes of Kanye and Laura Loomer, but I guess free speech isn’t that free to me.”