Disgraced hedge fund founder turned pharmaceutical CEO turned alleged Ponzi schemer Martin Shkreli is still smarting after a week in which he was arrested and arraigned on securities fraud charges and resigned as head of his own company. To add insult to injury, now alumni and current students at Hunter College High School want the school to return the $1 million donation he made to his former school earlier this year.
"I don't think it's right to take that money," Zack Kolin, a 2006 alum of Hunter, told CNNMoney. "As far as I'm concerned, it's blood money." Shkreli attended Hunter from 1994 to 2000, but never graduated; he dropped out at age 16 and started working on Wall Street, then earned his degree from Baruch College.
The school announced the donation in a press release on March 9th, calling it among the biggest individual gifts ever made to a New York City public school:
Hunter College announced today that Hunter College High School has received the largest single gift in the high school's 101-year history - a $1 million donation from health care investor and entrepreneur Martin Shkreli.
The Shkreli gift, to be managed by a new endowment fund in his name, is earmarked for a variety of uses, including funding new technology and teaching resources for the school's science and guidance programs. The endowment also aims to generally assist Hunter in "supporting and expanding its reputation as one of the premier schools in New York City and the United States."
"We're thrilled by Martin's donation, which will support a host of initiatives ensuring that Hunter stays in the vanguard of elite secondary schools in the country," Dr. Tony Fisher, principal of HCHS, said at the time. "Our students may also relate especially well to the gift, coming from someone who is not that many years removed from walking our school's halls."
The Times spoke to more of Shkreli's former classmates and teachers, painting a portrait of a ne'er-do-well who skipped classes and never applied himself. "I never really thought about him as a ‘Most Likely To’ type of person," said classmate Geoff Gresh. Despite that, people said Shkreli would come back to Hunter frequently "in a suit and in a briefcase, hanging out in the hallways and sort of showing of."
Several classmates say that when they heard about Mr. Shkreli’s gift, they could not help but wonder whether it was meant as a sly act of one-upmanship.
“I thought it was weird since he hadn’t graduated,” one classmate said. “It seemed almost like a ‘take that’ move.”
Current students are equally repulsed by Shkreli's actions: "They don’t like Martin, first of all," freshman Casey Liu told the Times. "They thought his live stream was a joke."
Since getting released from jail after posting $5 million bail, Shkreli again took to live streaming for several hours. "Good to be back. I missed you too," he said at the start to some of his followers. "I can’t really talk about business or anything. So please don’t ask me about businesses or any allegations or anything like that."
Although he wouldn't play the exclusive Wu-Tang Clan album he bought for around $2 million (he instead played REM's Monster when people asked to hear it), he did brag "that his ex-girlfriend had been trying to rekindle things," so we're glad he's got that going for him.