Notorious AIDS Drug Price Gouger Is A Post-Hardcore Figurehead
On Sunday The New York Times published a distressing story about Turing Pharmaceuticals jacking up the price of a drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to a whopping $750 per tablet. The pharmaceutical is mostly used to treat a parasitic infection that shows up most commonly in pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems — such as AIDS and cancer patients — and the brunt of the internet’s outrage over the 5000% price increase has fallen on Turing’s founder and chief executive Martin Shkreli.
Yesterday, Bullett published a story detailing 32-year-old Shkreli’s longtime obsession with pop-punk and emo bands, concluding it with an intriguing rumor: “According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, Shkreli is also a major investor behind Geoff Rickly’s Collect Records.”
Stereogum contacted Rickly for comment, though he declined to offer one.
In our 2014 interview with Rickly, the Thursday/United Nations/No Devotion frontman mentions a young investor who revitalized his label:
More recently, though, a young investor came to Rickly with the idea of restarting the label. “He’s great, very encouraging,” says Rickly. With that new financial backing, Rickly is running a label with several employees, and he’s planning on putting out records from bands like the instrumental D.C. trio Black Clouds and the Brooklyn art-rockers Sick Feeling. And now, Rickly also has the financial backing he needs to actually push the music he’s making.
A September 2014 interview with Team Rock references the investor, too:
So I put it [the label] away for a while, and then the Touché [Amoré] record took on a life of its own and that band took on a real cultural significance. And then my other partner and investor approached me about buying my guitar because I was so broke. And then he was like, ‘You put out that Touché record, you put out this, I love those records. I would love to help you do this label full-time.’ And that was great.
my favorite song. https://t.co/UXQRAtO6KI
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 15, 2014
Rickly and Shkreli appear to be friends if not business associates.
— Geoffrey Rickly (@GeoffRickly) December 28, 2014
Over the past several years, they’ve tweeted about their hangouts, among other niceties.
Not that Rickly has done anything wrong! But if Shkreli did finance Collect Records, fans of Wax Idols, No Devotion, Creepoid, United Nations, and other artists on the roster would probably find that interesting.
Shkreli has worked for other companies with a history of buying drugs and raising their prices. He was fired from one such company, Retrophin, last year and they filed a complaint a month ago alleging he used company money for personal reimbursements. Unbelievably, he also harassed the entire family of a former coworker from there. Shkreli maintains that raising the price of Daraprim is not price gouging, but simply a viable business decision.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 13, 2015
UPDATE: Nothing frontman Dominic Palermo confirmed Shkreli’s ties to Collect Records in a Facebook post today. Palermo reveals Nothing had signed to the label, which Rickly said was being funded by “an old Thursday fan that wanted to give back to music and the arts.” Palermo calls Shkreli “a soulless man.” You can read his post below.
Last night I read an article about this guy who was hiking up prices on some pharmaceutics that were leaving people on their death beds empty handed due to the cost. Not soon after that found out that this guy is backing the label I’m about to release a record on. I scoured the internet all night and early morning to try and see both sides before I made an opinion on the matter as I know how one sided people can be when there is a public lynching. But by 6 am today I literally just felt disgusted by everything and this seems to be in fact, the work of a soulless man. I was approached by Geoff Rickley about a year ago now, about how he was starting a label. He said he really believed in Nothing and the music we were creating. We were told of a backer who was an old Thursday fan that wanted to give back to the music and arts, but literally didn’t even know his name until last night. After Geoff told me his plans I really believed in him. He’s a great guy and he like me had, no idea what kind of monster was funding the label and soon to be album. And like he has helped me with my problems the past few months, I plan on helping him in anyway I can as well through this all. I’m not sure what the next step is here for us as were contractually attached to this person, but I had to share my revulsion with you all as the future is not quite foreseeable.
UPDATE 2: Geoff Rickly has spoken to Noisey about the situation. Here’s what he had to say about the future of Collect Records:
My head is still spinning, and though I want to believe that there is some reason that he would do this that is some remotely positive way, the only thing I can see is that it is totally and completely heartbreaking. I can’t see my future at all in the label. I have to see what the bands want first, and see if there is any meaning or any mission following all of this. More than anything, I want the bands to see that I hold art as the guiding force in my life. Ultimately I see this going in the same way it always does, where all the artists get blamed for everything and capitalism is never held accountable. I really think that if Collect is going to be scrutinized as being capitalism, but that is how music survives. I’m not making excuses for what has happened, but there is no corner of the music industry that doesn’t live and breathe from subsidies from business. It’s reductive and hypocritical to hold us and only us accountable though, we are all at fault in some greater way.
Read the full interview along with a brief Q&A with Nicky Money of Nothing here.
UPDATE 3: Other Collect artists have shared statements addressing the situation. Here’s what Wax Idols’ Hether Fortune wrote in a Facebook post:
Hi everyone. So, I want to address this situation with Martin Shkreli. Here are a few facts I can give you:
1) I have never met this man and did not know anything about him beyond the fact that he was a young millionaire who wanted to be a patron of Collect Records and Geoff Rickly, because he was a huge fan of Thursday.
2) I use the word “patron” rather than “investor” because as far as I know, Martin does NOT recoop a dime from Collect Records. He essentially donates money to the label.
3) Therefore by supporting Wax Idols and buying our record, you are NOT contributing to this asshole’s bank account.
With that being said, I as well as the other people involved with Collect Records are completely blindsided by this information and to say the least, we are horrified. Collect is working on how to address this situation RIGHT NOW – no one is taking this lightly.
I personally 100% am NOT FUCKING OK with this guy and his business tactics. If any of you have learned anything about me through being a fan of the band, I hope that you would know by now that this kind of advantageous rich guy greed goes against everything that I stand for.
I love Collect Records. Geoff Rickly is an incredible person who I’ve known and admired since I was 13 years old. I stand behind him and know that he would never willingly put himself OR me into a situation like this had he been aware of what was really going on. We are going to handle this.
And this is what Sick Feeling told The Fader via email:
We have been dismayed as details continue to trickle in about the business life of Collect Records silent investor Martin Shkreli. One thing is clear; as long as he has a part in the label, we, Sick Feeling, cannot. Our experience with Geoff, Norm, and Shaun has been nothing but positive, however, we cannot continue to work with Collect as long as Martin Shkreli has any part in it.
As a result of the massive backlash and outrage, Shkreli is backtracking on the Daraprim price hike, NBC News reports. “Yes it is absolutely a reaction,” he told NBC. “There were mistakes made with respect to helping people understand why we took this action, I think that it makes sense to lower the price in response to the anger that was felt by people.” The new price has yet to be announced.
UPDATE 4: Rickly is severing ties with Shkreli. Read his statement here>