Spoiler alert: If you’re yet to see what – in my opinion – is one of the best movies of the year, then this article will no doubt spoil the entire Wolf of Wall Street movie for you. Should you still read it? 100%.
Here at Wall Street Survivor, we’ve been eagerly awaiting this Scorsese masterpiece since previews started hitting YouTube this past summer. Three hours of sex, drugs, and
rock and roll stocks…what else could you ask for?
I think it’s safe to say that the Wolf of Wall Street definitely lived up to the hype, but did it live up to the actual story?
From all the Quaalude-popping and helicopter-crashing and yacht-sinking that takes place in the movie, it’s easy to assume that Scorsese’s adaptation of the real story is an extremely overly exaggerated one.
But apparently the real Jordan Belfort, a 90s stockbroker who conned his way into millions of dollars and a subsequent drug problem, did lead an extravagant lifestyle in line with the extremes presented in the film. Belfort told his story in a 2007 memoir that bears the same name as the film. He also wrote a sequel entitled Catching the Wolf of Wall Street.
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Belfort’s partner Danny Porush, brilliantly played by Jonah Hill, seems to think otherwise, saying:
“The book…is a distant relative of the truth, and the film is a distant relative of the book.”
Not surprising Belfort and Porush don’t see eye-to-eye on how their broker days played out. The two haven’t spoken to each other in years. Which leads us to #1 in our list of …
The REAL Wolf of Wall Street – Fact or Fiction:
(Info source: Time’s The Wolf of Wall Street: The True Story)
1) Belfort tried to save his partner from incriminating himself: FICTION
In the movie, Belfort slides over an inconspicuous note to his partner Porush that reads “I’m wearing a wire. Don’t incriminate yourself.” In reality, Belfort wasn’t that nice. He ratted out many of his co-workers, including Porush, and spent only two years in prison because of it.
2) Belfort’s first day as a stockbroker was October 19, 1987 (Black Monday): FACT
The first day after Belfort passed his Series 7 and got his broker’s license, the stock market crashed, falling 500 points (nearly a quarter of its overall value). The firm he worked for subsequently closed down.
3) Belfort sold penny stocks he himself owned to his clients: FACT
Belfort started making his money by selling rather crappy penny stocks to lower-to-middle income clients. He then up’d the ante, and started selling penny stocks to the rich, owning a big portion of those same stocks. He’d pull the classic pump-and-dump: pump up the price of a stock by selling it to the masses, and then sell (or “dump”) his shares at a huge profit, causing the price to plummet and all those people to lose their investments.
4) He crashed his Lamborghini while high on Quaaludes: FICTION
It was a Mercedes.
5) He sunk a yacht in Italy: FACT
And it belonged to Coco Chanel.
6) Belfort’s company, Stratton Oakmont, took Steve Madden public: FACT
Yup, Stratton Oakmont orchestrated the Steve Madden Initial Public Offering (IPO). Belfort and Porush also owned a ton of the stock and purposefully drove up the price. Super illegal.
7) Belfort laundered his money into Swiss banks using in-laws: FACT
His wife’s mother helped him smuggle money into Switzerland. We don’t believe they actually strapped cash to her body.
8) Belfort has gone on to become a successful motivational “sales” speaker: FACT
The last scene of the movie alludes to a new path for our protagonist, one where he’ll teach people how to do what he does best: sales. This is true. After Belfort served his prison sentence, he started a new career as a motivational speaker, teaching people the art of selling. It seems like an even newer career path is on the horizon for the real Wolf of Wall Street, as he’s currently in talks for his very own reality show.
9) He was very creative when it comes to creating tax shields. Fact
How creative? Consider this: often times, he engaged the services of prostitutes using his company credit card to the point of writing those “expenses” off on his taxes!
10) He was a very shrewd dealmaker, even while in jail. Fact
Consider the fact that despite stealing more than $110 million, he only served time in jail for 22 months. He wasn’t know for being the wolf of wallstreet for nothing and being the wolf that he is, he was able to strike a deal with government prosecutors that cut his jail sentence to only 22 months from the original 30 years! What was the ace up his sleeve? Snitching on his c0-workers. Despicable? Yeah. Shrewd? Hell yeah!
11) He was a walking pharmacy: Fact
Belfort once claimed that at some point, he ingested enough drugs to sedate a country, particularly Guatemala.
12) His victims were rich people: Fiction
One sad part about the movie is that it really didn’t depict just how much financial destruction Jordan Belfort wreaked amongst the middle class. Truth is, many electricians, plumbers and other middle class people lost a lot of their hard-earned money. So it wasn’t just the wealthy investors that were talked about in the movie.
13) Jordan Belfort and his business partner met at a diner:
The movie shows Jordan first meeting his partner Donnie Azoff – or Danny Porush in real life – at a diner’s parking lot. Truth is, the two met when Danny’s wife introduced him to Jordan. The wife and Jordan met each other in the bus.
14) Jordan Belfort hosted dwarf-tossing events in the office: Fiction
According to Jordan’s business partner Danny Porush, they never did such a thing but only hired midgets to attend in-0ffice parties. Jordan Belfort, in his memoir, only referred to this as a possibility and never an actual thing that happened.
15) Jordan Belfort was really known as the Wolf of Wallstreet: Fiction
Porush claims he didn’t know of anyone in the firm calling or referring to Jordan as the wolf. Further, Porush claims that the name was just an exaggeration in both the book and movie. Then again, he did sell out Porush, so who knows what really happened.