When it comes to fame and shame, former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has apparently cornered the market.
Internet vendors cash in on mugs, t-shirts, and even shower curtains in the weeks leading up to their August criminal fraud trial.
A review of the online stores shows more than 50 offers of Holmes and Theranos items on Etsy, Poshmark, eBay and Redbubble.
One of the more unique items is an authentic Theranos lab coat, which is listed for $ 17,000.
Holmes, once a Silicon Valley darling, faces federal referral fraud and a conspiracy to suspect referral fraud related to allegedly misleading investors, patients, and doctors about her company’s blood testing technology.
But customers rave about their product purchases on social media.
In a TikTok, a young woman poses in a mirror with a pink t-shirt that says “Elizabeth Holmes is my #GirlBoss”.
Another TikToker shows a mug with Holmes on one side and Theranos on the other. She says, “I really wish Elizabeth Holmes had an MLM so that I could join.” An MLM is a controversial, multi-level marketing operation that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns that it may be a pyramid scheme.
And another pulls a t-shirt out of a package and says, “Y’all it’s here. The Queen of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes.”
A search on Instagram and Twitter also shows customers posing with their goods.
Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO of Theranos.
David Orrell | CNBC
Holmes, who is pregnant and due next month, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Before the demise of Theranos, her picture was apparently everywhere, even landing it on the cover of Forbes.
Today, despite a tarnished image and an upcoming 13-week trial, their brand is apparently still popular.
“It doesn’t surprise me, Elizabeth Holmes was a very inspiring person,” says Mark Macias, founder of Macias PR. “She was the youngest billionaire, self-made entrepreneur, and although we found out it was supposedly a scam – she was selling something revolutionary.”
Anthony, owner of Finance Memes Etsy shop, says sales of his Holmes items have increased since February. Anthony asked CNBC not to use his last name for fear of jeopardizing his employment.
“You can see it at Wall Street Bets – people like to talk about how much they lost,” said Anthony. “There’s an obsession with cheating, gambling, and taking bad risks. Everyone loves a good bad guy.”
A mug labeled “Theranos Early Investor” is the most popular item in his Etsy shop, according to Anthony. “It’s a little more reserved, you can put it in your drawer when your boss comes over.” Anthony says he has had over 200 visits to the cup in the past few months.
“There will always be people on the fringes who want to express themselves, take on the establishment and point the finger at them,” Macias said. However, he warns, “If you want a brand that will last, it is better to be famous. Infamy is short, it can ruin and destroy a brand.”
For Holmes, every image she projects is eternal.
As James Surowiecki, an MSNBC columnist, recently wrote in an article, “On the way up and the way down, one thing about Elizabeth Holmes has remained constant: people are fascinated by her.”
Watch the video to learn more.