Back in the 1990s, Jordan Belfort was at the top of his game.
He ran a pump-and-dump firm out on Long Island called Stratton-Oakmont with his partner and friend Danny Porush, sucking money from strangers and living an exorbitant lifestyle that included drugs, cars, yachts, and so much more. He even helped take famed shoe maker Steve Madden’s company public.
Alas, it all came crashing down and Belfort lost his fortune, wife, and over two years of his life as he served time in jail for what he’d done.
After jail, he wrote the riveting recount of his times at Stratton in a book called “The Wolf Of Wall Street.” Now the sequel of how he ratted everyone out and paid his dues to society has been released in the form of “Catching The Wolf Of Wall Street.”
We read both books and decided to revisit the life Jordan Belfort one last time.
Jordan Belfort was raised in Long Island, New York, the product of a Jewish household with a decent upbringing. Before starting a brokerage firm, Belfort used to sell water ice to beachgoers at a highly-inflated price. Soon after, he went to college at American University and then went to dental school for one day before deciding it wasn't a path to wealth.
So instead he went into the business of selling meat with his friend Kenny Greene (affectionately known as 'The Blockhead' throughout Belfort's two books) and after becoming a top salesman, went on to sell penny stocks at a place called Investors centre. After doing well there, he bought out a small firm called Stratton Securities and the rest is history.
In his first book, 'The Wolf Of Wall Street,' Belfort details his insane drug habit with excruciating detail. Everything from cocaine to ecstasy to marijuana to quaaludes played an integral part in his life to the point where it ultimately became his downfall.
Quaaludes were Jordan's drug of choice and on several occasions he nearly lost his life making decisions under the influence. Like the time he got in a fight with his wife Nadine and grabbed his daughter Chandler, high tailed it to the garage where his Mercedes was parked, and backed out of the garage with no seat belts on.
Belfort has been sober since the mid-2000s and seems very proud of his work in rehab. Clearly it's better than endangering the lives of his children.
If you've got the money, might as well spend it, right?
Luxury came natural to Belfort. From high rise apartments in Manhattan to a luxurious Long Island mansion, The Wolf had it all. A 256-foot superyacht he would eventually crash off the shores of Italy, a Ferrari Testarossa, and a house in the Hamptons are just a few of the toys he describes in great detail. Nevermind the expensive curtains, glassware, apparel, and about everything else under the sky.
And don't forget the restaurants. No four star restaurant within New York City limits could contain The Wolf's abrasive spending habits. Today, Belfort can only dream of the dinners and parties he threw for his employees.
Nadine Belfort, Jordan's second wife whom he married after leaving first wife Denise, was a catch all right. A model with a gorgeous body and luscious blonde hair any man would die for, she was all his. She stood by Jordan through the parties, hookers, and abuse but left after Belfort kicked her down a flight of stairs at his home in a drug-induced state of mind. She ultimately remarried a lawyer and moved out to California with their two kids.
Believe it or not, there is some good to this story. Belfort wasn't always pumping, dumping, and deceiving investors. He helped take public one of today's most iconic fashion companies, Steve Madden. Additionally, he made sure his friends were well taken care of and set them up with their own brokerage firms when the time was right. Sure, it doesn't make up for all the bad, but saying Belfort is the devil incarnate is a bit of a stretch.
People who worked for Stratton were rabid hounds who would do anything to make a buck. Belfort insists that he wouldn't hire anyone who was already a broker or was well-educated because they'd know too much. Instead, he hired people with high school diplomas and teenagers who wanted a shot at making big money because they would ultimately pledge their loyalty to them. Something like that of a cult. They were known as 'Strattonites.'
These Strattonites would party like the best of them. Midget tossing parties at the office were commonplace as were hookers, drugs, and parties that left restaurants reduced to rubble. It apparently made employees at firms like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns look like devout Mormons.
In the months before getting caught by the FBI, Belfort was a complete mess. One of the most insane stories in the original book was how he procured several 'pure' quaaludes from Switzerland. He took one and it didn't kick in right away, so he downed several more. He got in his car and drove to a payphone to speak with one of his many cohorts when he felt the drugs kick in.
Next thing he knew, he was parked in front of his house. Upon walking in, his wife confronted him and asked why his car was wrecked. Belfort soon realised he had crashed his Mercedes several times into several cars on the way home from the payphone, pulling a Tiger Woods of sorts before coming to a complete stop right by his home. He was arrested and went to rehab soon after.
Belfort often laundered money to Switzerland through several intermediaries at the time. Once one was caught, it was the beginning of the end for him. FBI agents soon arrived at his door and carted him off to jail.
After getting out of jail and while awaiting his trial and sentencing, Belfort played the role of a rat, taking down several friends and former co-workers on tape to help reduce the time of his sentencing. Agent Coleman of the FBI and Assistant US Attorney Joel Cohen really had it out for him.
And what a rat he was. Belfort incriminated his accountant known as 'Chef' who would cook the books and launder money at any opportunity possible as long as the crime was white-collar. Everyone was singled out on a list of nearly 100 names as Belfort recounted his past mistakes in minute detail to the FBI and US Attorney's office.
Though he was able to stretch his cooperation period with the FBI over a few years, Belfort ultimately was sentenced to four years - the same as his business partner and friend Danny Porush. However, after good time, drug counseling, and living in a halfway house, time served was more like two-and-a-half years.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of $110 million and his gross income would be docked 50% until the fine was paid in full. Ouch.
And like many criminals of Wall Street, Belfort did not have to deal with the general prison population. After spending a week in solitary confinement, he was put into a low security work camp with tennis courts, a library, and plenty of physical activities for him to enjoy. It was during this time he bunked with infamous pothead and actor Tommy Chong, who encouraged him to write a book on his life. Needless to say, Belfort took Chong's advice and began to learn how to correctly write a book and finding his influences through novels by Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson.
Today, Jordan Belfort is a changed man. Or at least that's what he says. He now resides in Los Angeles, California so he can be closer to his two children. After getting out of prison, Belfort began penning 'The Wolf Of Wall Street,' which is now on its way to becoming a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. Ironic, considering that the movie 'The Boiler Room' is loosely based upon Belfort's life.
While he's not nearly as rich as he once was and struggles to pay off his fine, Belfort is a living example of the excess that once was and still is in the clandestine world of finance.