Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street, may seem like a wild tale of excess wealth and bad behavior. And, uh, it is. But that doesn’t mean everything in it is true, or the whole story. If you watched The Wolf of Wall Street and thought, “This would never happen in real life,” buckle up, because these facts about Jordan Belfort are something else.
At times, the film makes The Hangover look like nothing more than a high school party. Between cocaine-fueled parties in the office and international financial crime, the movie does not give a single f*ck (of which, by the way, there are a lot in the dialogue itself) about being sympathetic or moral.
But in Jordan Belfort’s memoir, titled — of course — The Wolf of Wall Street, things are even more wild, not to mention detailed. As a successful stockbroker con-artist in the 1990s, Belfort’s memoirs display the “profit-over-all” culture of Wall Street, portraying the lifestyle in all of its “depraved glory.” And Belfort didn’t hold back on the debauchery and bad behavior of his time drugged out and taking money. In fact, he revels in sharing things like how a friend electrocuted himself to save drugs from a sinking ship, or details of all the sex that happened in his office.
Of course, he also starts the memoir by admitting that it’s all based on his “best recollections” — which, considering a lot of the book is about how he was stoned out of his mind, means we should probably take some things with a grain of salt. But if you want to believe, I can’t blame you. For your reading pleasure, here are 15 wild facts about Jordan Belfort’s actual life and career, all according to his memoir.
1. Belfort once generated a $700,000 hotel bill.
According to his memoir, aka the book the movie is based on, he ran up the giant bill in Italy after being rescued when his yacht went down. (In his own words, “It wasn’t as bad as it seemed, though, because the bill included a $300,000 gold bangle studded with rubies and emeralds.”
2. One office junior agreed to have her hair shaved off on the trading floor in return for $10,000.
In his memoir, Belfort says the woman put on a bikini and let them shave her whole head in a “win-win” that let her pay off the debt for her boob job.
3. Belfort’s drug of choice was Quaaludes.
But if you saw the movie — did you really need someone to tell you that?
4. He confessed to making love to his wife on $3 million in $10,000 stacks of notes.
5. He once landed his helicopter on his back lawn, flying with just one eye open because he was so stoned he had double vision.
6. He sank his 167-foot motor yacht, complete with seaplane and helicopter, after overruling the captain and taking it into a Mediterranean storm.
This was right before he ran up that $700,000 hotel bill.
7. He used his wife's sweet old aunt as a mule, helping him smuggle money out of the United States.
8. He used his first Wall Street million to buy a white Ferrari because Don Johnson had one.
9. He woke up his secretary at 4 a.m. because he was in London and ran out of drugs. An emergency supply was immediately sent out on a Concorde jet.
10. He kicked his wife down a set of stairs in front of their young daughter, and then drove his car through his garage door with the little girl unbuckled in the front seat when she tried to stop him driving off.
11. He claims to have ingested enough drugs to "sedate Guatemala."
And was flying his helicopter during it.
12. He helped take Steve Madden, one of today's most iconic fashion companies, public.
13 He woke up from a drug-filled bender with the police at his door — they arrested him for causing seven different traffic accidents that he had no recollection of.
14. Facing up to three decades in prison for securities fraud, he snitched — becoming a government witness supplying information against his co-workers.
15. Perhaps the reason Belfort still seems to have such fond memories of the days he was flying high and mighty with other people’s money is that he only had to serve 22 months in jail, and was ordered to pay back $110 million.
Of course, since his arrest and conviction on charges relating to securities fraud, Belfort seems to have… calmed down. As of 2021, he was marketing himself as a motivational speaker and sales trainer. If you want to keep up with him these days, he’s on Twitter — where his handle is, yes, @WolfofWallSt.
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