Ever since the hit movie “The Wolf Of Wall Street” premiered in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, Belfort’s personal life and story has become rather infamous. Although he scammed investors out of $200 million, he may be even more well-known for the activities and debauchery of his private life.
Belfort At His Peak
At his peak, socially and financially, Belfort could be seen by many as a legend — amassing an immense fortune and lifestyle to accompany it. At the age 31, he already was a multimillionaire stockbroker, in possession of a helicopter, yacht, plane, and more. But how did he make all this money? Well, Belfort founded the company Stratton Oakmont, a stockbroker firm based on Long Island. His success came from his incredible sales tactics, reportedly able to sell anything to anyone. He was able to transfer these tactics to young brokers, many of them fresh out of school. He handed them a script to read and trained them in his program, allowing them to successfully cold-call potential investors. These practices, along with some illegal ones that will later be explored, allowed Belfort to earn $50 million a year. However, the numbers get even more insane. Allegedly, he once made $12 million in just three minutes! However, these astronomical figures did not come without a cost.
The Darker Side
Jordan Belfort’s rapid success did not come without a cost. In addition to engaging in illegal trading activities, his life was filled with other debauchery — both legal and illegal. Perhaps most notable was his excessive drug abuse. He preferred the powerful sedative known as Quaaludes, a recreational drug banned in many different countries. He was said to have ran out of Quaaludes during a hotel stay in London, and had his secretary in New York send him an emergency supply at four in the morning. However, Belfort was not alone in his drug indulgence, as many of the brokers at Stratton Oakmont (also know as Strattonites) used cocaine regularly.
Illegal Trading Practices
In addition to Belfort’s illegal personal practices, he employed illegal market manipulation techniques at Stratton Oakmont. Most common were “pump and dump” schemes, a technique where Stratton’s brokers would buy up a bunch of shares of a company for their clients, causing the stock price to rapidly rise or “pump.” At this point, Belfort would “dump” his personal shares on the market, causing the price to collapse and leaving his clients with nothing. Further, he engaged in money laundering, or the concealing of illegally obtained money. Usually, this was done by transferring money to foreign banks, or funneling in the money through legitimate businesses.
Overall, the story of Jordan Belfort and his firm Stratton Oakmont is certainly a memorable one. Riddled with crime and ethical dilemmas, it is truly unlike any other. However, in present day (after serving jail time), Belfort is reportedly a changed man. He is paying restitution to his victims, and serving as a dutiful father to his children.