The wolf is coming
Ex-rogue trader whose life inspired The Wolf of Wall Street says he's a changed man
Meet the real "wolf" of Wall Street - the reformed version, that is.
Rogue stockbroker-turned-motivational speaker Jordan Belfort, 51, whose memoir inspired Martin Scorsese's movie, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), is a man ashamed of his past. He was played by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio (above left) in the movie.
During The New Paper's interview with the New York-born native, he came across as being regretful of his youth - a heady mix of drugs, sex and swindling.
"Unfortunately, the movie is very accurate. I was pretty wild back in the early 1990s," he said with a wry laugh.
"On some level, it's hard for me to watch a number of the scenes (involving drugs), even though I've been clean (of drugs) for 17 years now."
While Belfort says he can look at many of the scenes "objectively", he can still "smell the cocaine" he snorted.
In an interview earlier this month, Belfort told The Australian newspaper that drugs led to his eventual downfall.
"I was overwhelmed with this desire for instant gratification...It got dark and disgusting as it all spiralled out of control and imploded," he said
In 2003, he was jailed for fraud and money laundering, spending 22 months in prison.
For this interview, Belfort sent his answers in an audio recording.
"Kicking the drug habit was very easy for me, as I was at that point when I was completely sick and tired," he said, adding he was already drug-free in 1998, before serving time.
As for the debauchery portrayed in the movie, Belfort said he can now view those sexual escapades with a cool, detached eye.
He and his friends hired prostitutes, strippers and naked marching bands in their office.
Once, while on a plane, they even held a mass orgy.
But gone is the man who used to idolise Gordon Gekko, the financial crook played by Michael Douglas's in the 1987 movie Wall Street.
GREED NO LONGER GOOD
In the film, Gekko said: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works."
It runs contrary to Belfort's current guiding principles.
"Greed is not good," stressed Belfort, whose previous two marriages ended in divorces. He has two children, daughter Chandler, 20, and son Carter, 18, from his second marriage. Custody of the children is shared with his ex-wife, Nadine.
"Ambition is good, but greed is bad. There is a huge distinction between the two," he said.
"Greed is about making as much money in the shortest time possible and not caring who gets hurt.
"Ambition, on the other hand, is about creating value and making the world a better place."
The Belfort of the past revelled in hedonistic excesses, taking pleasure in the pain of others. As depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie, he once organised a dwarf-tossing contest to entertain brokers on his trading floor.
Today, he lives with his girlfriend of six years in a modest three-bedroom house in Manhattan Beach, a relatively inexpensive part of Los Angeles.
Belfort described The Wolf of Wall Street movie as a game-changer in his life.
"Having Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio) play me was a huge honour. And to have Marty (Martin Scorsese) on board too, it's just as much an honour.
"I knew the film would have a huge impact on my (motivational speaking and writing) career," he said.
Belfort will be in town next month for a corporate sales training seminar, promoting his Straight Line sales technique.
He will be sharing tips on the art of persuasion, developing customers for life and how to better influence people.
"Singapore is deservedly, a massive financial hub in the world," he said, adding that Singaporeans are "high achievers" and "very diligent".
Belfort said: "When I was there a few years ago, I could sense success in the air. There was this standard of commitment, of doing everything at the highest level."
Unfortunately, the movie is very accurate. I was pretty wild back in the early 1990s.
- Rogue stockbroker turned motivational speaker, Jordan Belfort, 51, whose memoir inspired Martin Scorsese's movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
A Day with The Wolf of Wall Street
June 8, 2-6pm
Garnet Rooms, Max Atria @Singapore Expo
$188 to $388
Tickets available from Sistic. To purchase, call 6348-5555 or log on to www.sistic.com.sg
FOUR THINGS ABOUT THE BAD BOY TURNED GOOD
Jordan Belfort has become somewhat of a star since the release of The Wolf of Wall Street. Here are four things you should know about the man.
DEFRAUDED INVESTORS OF US$200 MILLION (S$250M)
Belfort's securities firms Stratton Oakmont perfected the "pump and dump" scam.
Brokers would drive up the price of shares and Belfort and his partners would sell large chunks they owned.
This caused the share price to collapse and made the company a lot of money, but it left their clients penniless.
WROTE BOOK IN JAIL
In 2003, Belfort was arrested, placed in rehab and given a four-year sentence for securities fraud and money laundering.
He provided evidence against his colleagues and his sentence was shortened to 22 months.
While in prison, he was inspired by Tom Wolfe's novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and wrote part of his memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street, in jail. It was published in 2008.
MEMOIR-MOVIE A HIT
The three-hour film by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, grossed over US$389 million (S$487 million) worldwide.
It was nominated for the best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor awards at the Oscars in March, but did not win anything.
CAN'T KEEP ALL EARNINGS
As part of his plea deal when he was arrested, Belfort must use half of his income each year to pay US$110 million (S$137.7 million) in restitution to his victims.
In a post on his Facebook page last December, Belfort claimed he is not keeping the money from the royalties of the movie and book.