It’s been four years since the unforgettable Summer of Scam. First, there was Anna Delvey aka Anna Sorokin, who was posed as a German heiress to trick New York’s most important—and wealthiest—people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then there was Elizabeth Holmes, original #GirlBoss icon and former big-time Silicon Valley techpreneur, who duped investors while wearing her signature black turtleneck.
Like Delvey, whose story was dramatized in Inventing Anna, Holmes got the Hollywood treatment. Oscar nominee Amanda Seyfried starred as Holmes in The Dropout, now available to stream on Hulu, and even earned an Emmy nomination for her portrayal. According to Hulu, the series explores “what caused the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, once heralded as ‘the next Steve Jobs,’ to lose everything in the blink of an eye.”
In January 2022, Holmes was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by misleading investors. In November, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison. So how did she get here? The Theranos saga is twisty one. Here’s everything you need to know.
More From ELLE
This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Who is Elizabeth Holmes?
In 2014, Elizabeth Holmes—then a 30-year-old billionaire entrepreneur—was making history as a bonafide Silicon Valley #GirlBoss. She had dropped out of Stanford at the age of 19, founded a revolutionary biotech company, and landed her first major magazine cover at Fortune. Fitting, given that her blood-testing company Theranos was valued at $9 billion. Some early backers included U.S. Treasury Secretary George Schultz, Rupert Murdoch, and the Walton family.
But by 2016, people began to question Holmes. The Theranos technology simply didn’t work, and Holmes was thought to have lied about her business operations to make money. In 2018, Theranos had all but completely collapsed—and Holmes was deemed a Silicon Valley scammer.
What was Elizabeth Holmes charged with?
In 2018, Elizabeth Holmes and her former Theranos business partner (and ex-boyfriend) Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, were charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. (Balwani will be played by Naveen Andrews in The Dropout.) An indictment accused the two of plotting to “scheme, plan and artifice to defraud investors as to a material matter,” according to The New York Times.
Has Elizabeth Holmes been sentenced?
On January 3, 2022, Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by misleading investors. A jury found Holmes not guilty on four other charges connected to fraud. According to NPR, the jury could not reach a decision on three other counts tied to investor fraud.
Holmes now awaits sentencing. According to The New York Times, Holmes faces major prison time:
“Each count of wire fraud carries up to 20 years in prison, though Ms. Holmes is unlikely to receive the maximum sentence because she has no prior convictions, said Neama Rahmani, the president of the West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor. But he said her sentence was likely to be on the higher end because of the amount of the money involved. Ms. Holmes raised $945 million for Theranos during the start-up’s lifetime and those investments were ultimately wiped out.”
Who is Elizabeth Holmes married to?
Elizabeth Holmes is married to hotel heir Billy Evans. They reportedly tied the knot in 2019 and first met at a party back in 2017. The news first came to light when someone close to the couple leaked the news to a podcast. On an episode of Inside the Hive With Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton (who covers Silicon Valley) said, “I heard that no Theranos people were invited, which is interesting because she’s still friendly with some of her Theranos folks.”
A few rumors about the relationship have circulated amongst ex-Theranos employees. “She doesn’t have any money… he [Billy Evans] is a trust fund baby and has a lot of money, and he is probably helping out with the legal bills, because Elizabeth’s family doesn’t have money either,” Bilton said on the podcast. He added: “Holmes is gong to get pregnant before she gets on the stand because she will look very sympathetic as a pregnant woman on the stand.”
Bilton should add seer to his resume. In August 2021, it was reported that Holmes and Evans gave birth to their first child William Holmes Evans in California. Holmes had first informed the court of her pregnancy in March 2021, according to ABC, which delayed her trial.
Where is Elizabeth Holmes now?
Before her sentence, Holmes remained free on a $500,000 bond while awaiting her fate. It was reported last year that Holmes had been living in a 74-acre, $135 million mansion in Woodside, California, which is one of the wealthier towns in Silicon Valley. According to CNBC, the property is called “Green Gables,” and it “evokes the image of an enchanted forest with deer running through the property.”
During her time there, Holmes reportedly moved onto her next venture. Vanity Fair reported in 2019 that she has met with documentary filmmakers to talk about telling her “real” story.
She also asked for a new trial after claiming that a key witness came to her house unannounced and allegedly said he felt “guilty” about his testimony, CNN reported on Sept. 6. According to a court filing made by Holmes’ attorneys, Adam Rosendorff—a former Theranos lab director and a whistleblower in The Wall Street Journal‘s 2015 investigation into the company—visited Holmes’ home on Aug. 8 and spoke to her husband. Holmes’ lawyers say the impromptu visit counts as new evidence and were requesting a new trial.
But on Friday, November 17, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila sentenced Holmes to 11 years in prison, which is shorter than the 15-year penalty requested by federal prosecutors. She faced a maximum sentence of 20 years. Prosecutors requested that Holmes be forced to pay $804 million in restitution of the $1 billion she raised from investors, but a future hearing will decide her financial penalty.
Before her sentence was delivered, Holmes read a speech to the courtroom, saying, “I am devastated by my failings. I have felt deep pain for what people went through, because I failed them. I regret my failings with every cell of my body.”
Holmes is currently pregnant with her second child, and must report to serve her sentence in April of 2023, which should allow her to have her delivery outside of prison.
She is considered a “flight risk.“
It was reported in January 2023, that prosecutors want Holmes in jail ASAP, because they consider her a flight risk. They stated in court documents that Holmes made “an attempt to flee the country” in 2022.
“The government became aware on January 23, 2022, that Defendant Holmes booked an international flight to Mexico departing on January 26, 2022, without a scheduled return trip,” prosecutors alleged. “Only after the government raised this unauthorized flight with defense counsel was the trip canceled.”
They added that “the incentive to flee has never been higher” and she “has the means to act on that incentive.”
Holmes’ defense lawyers claim she booked the flight before she was convicted because she was planning to attend a friend’s wedding in Mexico if everything worked out for it. But then it didn’t.
How do I watch The Dropout?
The entire series is now streaming exclusively on Hulu. You can watch here. ⠀
This story has been updated.
Rose is a Senior Editor at ELLE overseeing features and projects about women’s issues. She is an accomplished and compassionate storyteller and editor who excels in obtaining exclusive interviews and unearthing compelling features.