These days, Jordan Belfort is flying high again. Not only is the real-life "Wolf of Wall Street" living high on the hog in beautiful Hermosa Beach, he's making money as a motivational speaker — a business that will surely only increase in light of the new Martin Scorsese movie based on his life, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
But as the Weekly reported yesterday, Belfort is hardly penitent — in fact, lawyers and prosecutors say he's continued to screw his victims, only repaying pennies on the dollar of the millions he swindled from them.
And that's not the only reason we think he's a schmuck. We did our homework so you don't have to, both reading his book and studying the court record. Here are the 10 reasons why we refuse to glamorize him — DiCaprio or no DiCaprio.
10. He Wasn't Really a Wolf ... Belfort gave himself the nickname "Wolf of Wall Street" to romanticize his sordid story and build his brand. "In eight years of working with him, I never heard anyone call him the Wolf or anything like that," says Danny Porush, Belfort's partner from 1988-96 in the investment banking firm Stratton Oakmont.
9. ... And He Didn't Work on Wall Street Belfort's investment banking firm, Stratton Oakmont, was located in Lake Success, Long Island, almost an hour from Wall Street. But he trained his brokers to tell investors they were calling from Wall Street, where they had their fingers on the pulse of the economy. The Wolf of Long Island just didn't have the same zing.
8. His Business Acumen Was Limited to Fraud His scheme wasn't even all that clever, just that tired old pump-and-dump stock fraud that's been going on so long it's got whiskers on it. Business 101 students know the drill: cold-call gullible investors, establish credibility by having them make a little money in a solid stock, then convince them you have the inside track on something new and hot that they should pour their money in. When you manage to pump the price up and they make more paper profits, convince them to bet the ranch — and then ignore their sell orders while you cash out your own blocks of stock at the top of the market, leaving your sucker investors grasping for air as the price drops like a stone.
Turn the page for more reasons the Wolf is a schmuck, including some writing that makes 50 Shades of Gray seem well-written.
7. He Was a Phony He dubbed his firm Stratton Oakmont because he wanted it to sound WASPY and elite, but there was no Stratton and there was no Oakmont. Just two self-described "Savage Jew" hustlers named Belfort and Porush.
6. He Sold Out His Pals He only served 22 months in prison (Tommy Chong, busted for selling bongs over the internet, was his cellmate) thanks to his decision to wear a wire and rat out his friends and colleagues and then testify against them.
5. His Remorse Is a Fairly Recent Invention Belfort's stock answer whenever he was questioned about the morality of what he did to his investors: "Hey, Nobody got killed." Kansas City attorney Diane Nygaard, who represented dozens of Belfort investors, says she is aware of several elderly investors whose lives were destroyed and never recovered from the shock of losing their life savings.
4. Even Bill Clinton Only Wrote One Book of Memoirs It wasn't enough to write one memoir about his stock stealing, drug sniffing, girl-chasing days at Stratton Oakmont. He had to follow it up with a second memoir, Catching the Wolf of Wall Street, that recycles the same stories of crime and debauchery and serves mainly as an extended justification for why he ratted out so many friends and colleagues to gain a shorter prison sentence.
3. Oh, and the Writing? His bizarre fixation on the repulsive phrase "loamy loins" to describe the nether regions of women he is banging, be they hookers or wives. In his first memoir, especially, it's used like a verbal tic. No reader should have to endure alliteration that cheesy.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
2. Only College Freshmen Brag About How High They Are He spent seven years constantly high on cocktails of sedatives, cocaine, crack and ecstasy, which he insists on spelling out in loving detail, as if somehow he can transfer the high sensations to the reader. Bonus: He notes when he is "dry swallowing" pills as opposed to those he washed down with champagne or single-malt scotch. Some talent.
And the No. 1 reason we can't get behind this Wolf of Wall Street schtick ...
1. Other People Suffered for His Sins It wasn't just the old ladies swindled out of their life savings, although that's bad enough to give this redemption tour a sour taste. He also admits to pushing his wife down the stairs, sexually molesting a female flight attendant and putting his three-year-old daughter in a car without a seatbelt, which he promptly crashed through a garage door. Some things just aren't forgivable.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paulteetor