Collect Records founder Geoff Rickly (Thursday, United Nations, No Devotion) and the label’s various bands were publicly distressed this week when news broke that millionaire pharmaceutical investor Martin Shkreli, who had been silently funding the label, was under fire for massively inflating the cost of a crucial drug for AIDS and cancer patients. Now, as Pitchfork points out, Rickly has issued a statement affirming that Collect is severing its business relationship with Shkreli. Read Rickly’s statement below.
Today, Collect Records — with the support and encouragement of all of our artists — have agreed to fully sever our relationship with Martin Shkreli, effective immediately.
When I decided to get into business with Martin, we took him on as a patron. He was completely silent and allowed us to do business as we pleased. His only ask was that we sign bands that we believed could make great art given the right environment and not to focus on a profit, no matter how dire the bottom line.
Never in a million years did any of us expect to wake up to the news of the scandal that he is now involved in. It blindsided and upset us on every level. As such, we know it is impossible for us to continue having any ties with him. For my part, I’ve always strived to make Collect a place that was so liberal, encouraging, and artist-friendly that no one would ever walk away from us willingly, though to do so at any time would be very easy. To that end, I hope that our bands continue to believe in our guidance and passion. Any of them that have had an incurable crisis of confidence will be allowed to leave with nothing but the kind of encouragement that we’ve built our label on.
For all the kind words of encouragement that I’ve received over the past two days, I’m forever grateful.
From all here at Collect Records, thank you.
UPDATE: The New York Times has some more information, including financial details. Among the new revelations:
- Shrekli’s first contact with Rickly was when he paid $10,000 for the guitar Rickly used to record Thursday’s 2001 album Full Collapse.
- During the time of struggle Rickly described in our feature last summer, Shrekli agreed to become a minority owner of Collect Records with a share just under 50 percent. Rickly said Shrekli has supplied the label with “somewhere around a million dollars — $600,000 last time I checked… He always just said take it as an endowment for the arts.”
- Rickly was aware of Shrekli’s prior shady business dealings: “Of course I Googled him. I had apprehensions and I talked to him about it. He has a cavalier attitude about things. At the time, one on one, it was soothing, but in public now it comes across as borderline sociopathic.” Furthermore, “At the very worst, if Martin was a bad guy, then you’re taking his terrible money and giving it to artists who never get any. I wanted to make something great out of it — the stupid Robin Hood narrative that everybody knows.”
- Despite his ownership stake, Shrekli has never profited from Collect Records. Shrekli: “All I did was put money in. I want to be a patron for musicians I really respect and that have a hard time making ends meet.” It’s unclear from the NYT’s report what his ownership stake means if he’s not recouping any of his investments. It’s also unclear whether Rickly and the other label owners will have to buy Shrekli out.
- Shrekli on the company’s decision to sever ties with him: “I don’t like it — I want to be involved in all this — but I respect their decision… They can move forward from here. I kickstarted the company. I’m not the kind of guy that takes back a — if they can find a new investor, great, if they go out of business then it is what it is.”
- Rickly says Collect Records is indeed likely finished: “This is going to end the career of the record label, no doubt. If I were a band on the label I would be having a serious crisis of faith right now. The amount of money I have in the bank doesn’t cover my outstanding invoices. It’s devastating.”