It’s been four years since Martin Scorsese’s tale of crooked Wall St. brokers hit theaters. It’s been ten since the book the film was based on was penned by “The Wolf” himself, Jordan Belfort. And it’s been almost twenty since the aforementioned and his cronies scammed hard working citizens out of millions of dollars. While the movie was, for the most part, going off of what Belfort wrote (in fact most of DiCaprio’s dialogue is taken directly from its pages), it would be silly to assume a lot wasn’t embellished to sell tickets. Of course, that’s nothing against the directorial prowess of Marty. The people demand a good story and it’s important to give the people what they want. The thing is, the true facts about Belfort and his company, Stratton-Oakmont, go far deeper than what was shown or written, and the events leading up to his money-making scheme as well as those that followed are made even juicier when compared to those portrayed for the audience at home. So, if you think you know everything there is to know about Jordan Belfort, well, I may have some surprises awaiting you. Here are 15 things you didn’t know about the real wolf of Wall Street:
15. He Wasn’t Even On Wall Street
A few minutes ago, I was checking out prices of office space on New York City’s famed Wall Street. An office that fits around nine employees comfortably goes for about $5,000 a month. Jordan Belfort, at his peak, employed close to 1,000 people. So, if we divide 1,000 by nine then multiply by 5,000… subtract a little for bulk employee pricing and inflation… and we get a monthly rental fee of about $400,000-$500,000. A price that may seem like small potatoes when you compare it to the millions Belfort’s company, Stratton-Oakmont was raking in, but remember, they weren’t raking in the big bucks immediately. Which is why it made sense to station themselves in Lake Success, Long Island, which is an hour away from Wall Street. Belfort reportedly trained his staff to tell investors they were calling from Wall Street to make the deal seem more enticing but in reality, this guy was “the wolf of Long Island,” or he would be, except…
14. Nobody Ever Called Him “The Wolf”
Bummer right? Finally, after all of these years, you get a super cool nickname complete with a movie and then just like that some jerk on a listicle site takes it away from you. Sorry, pal. Apparently, the only one who called Jordan Belfort “wolf” was Jordan Belfort, and he didn’t even do it until he wrote his memoir in 2007. “In eight years of working with him, I never heard anyone call him the Wolf or anything like that,” said Danny Porush, former president of Stratton-Oakmont who was played by Jonah Hill in the movie. Hate to be a buzzkill but the only nicknames this guy ever heard in the boardroom were probably Jordy, Boss and crook.
13. He Did “It” On A Stack Of Money
As fun as it is to bash Jordan Belfort for being a slimy criminal who stole millions from everyday people, this little factoid is actually pretty damn radical and most likely resulted in calloused right hand from all the high-fives he received afterward. According to lore, Belfort once laid $3 million in cash out onto the floor and then proceeded to lay his then wife, Nadine Macaluso, atop the aforementioned pile. The couple then made sweet, sweet love atop the crispy bills resulting in a new definition of “dirty money” and a lifetime of bragging rights. Now, most of us will only get the opportunity (if at all) to perform such an act on an amount closer to $5 or $15, but Margot Robbie, who portrayed Belfort’s wife in the movie and reenacted the event has a word of caution to anyone inspired to attempt the act.”I got a million paper cuts on my back from all that money! It’s not as glamorous as it sounds,” she shared. “If anyone is ever planning on having sex on top of a pile of cash: don’t.”
12. That Tossing Thing Was Just For The Movies
C’mon now. You didn’t actually believe all that exaggerated Hollywood garbage Scorsese shoved into that three-hour movie, did you? To be honest, a lot of it was true, so if you did you shouldn’t feel too embarrassed. However, the famous opening scene in which Leo and company are launching hired midgets at a velcro target is in fact, fabricated. While Belfort does mention midget tossing as a fun idea in his memoir, he claims to have only hired little people for one party he can recall and none of them were thrown anywhere. Danny Porush (the real Donnie Azoff portrayed by Jonah Hill) addressed the scene in an interview a few years back, “We never abused [or threw] the midgets in the office; we were friendly to them. There was no physical abuse.” Just to be clear, we’re not using the term “midget” anymore, so clearing up accusations of little person abuse by using the term isn’t all that great either.
11. He Didn’t Pay Back Any Of His Victims
Talk about a genuine, grade-A dirt bag. Belfort reportedly stole over $110 million from investors. And if you remember, those investors weren’t blue-blooded trust fund kids, they were your run of the mill, blue collar Americans working nine to five jobs. So when some silver-tongued hot shot from the big apple calls you up with a major investment opportunity that could change your life, it’s difficult to not buy in. Unfortunately, as we all know, you were more likely to capture a leprechaun than to have one of Belfort’s stocks turn you a profit. When the Feds were finally done prosecuting Belfort, the court ordered him to reimburse his victims to pay the money back. However, to this day, nearly two decades, one book, and a major motion picture later, Belfort has only paid about $10 million of the $110 million he owes, and even that came from selling off assets in the early 2000s.
10. He Was Violent
Do you see that lovely young woman pictured above? That’s Nadine Macaluso, formerly Nadine Belfort. She’s the real life ex-wife Margot Robbie played in the movie. And like we saw in the film, their marriage wasn’t exactly filled with rainbows and sunshine. She was a regular gal, good looking or not, who broke up a “happy” marriage so she could, as it seems, have a richer life, and he was a millionaire crook with a love of drugs and other women. Not exactly a recipe that gets you to a 50-year wedding anniversary if you ask me. Proof of their rocky romance can be summed up into one event during their marriage when Belfort, high as an effing kite, kicked Nadine so hard that she fell down the stairs. He then proceeded to not only threaten to take away their daughter but attempted it right there. He tossed their daughter into his sports car (no seatbelt as has been reported) and sped off THROUGH the garage door and only stopped after he collided into a pole on their property. It’s sad when drugs kill, but it’s really sad when they kill innocents. Note: no one was killed during this event, just want to make that clear.
9. He Ratted Out EVERYONE
“People call them rats because they’ll do anything to survive.” That’s a quote from another infamous Scorsese movie, Goodfellas. It’s a classic Scorsese crime movie trope, and classic convict trope in general when the accused “flips” as they say and starts pointing fingers at anyone just to get some time taken off his own sentence. Jordan Belfort certainly proved to be no exception. In the movie, there’s a scene in which Belfort wears a wire, but tries to avoid implicating his friends by secretly passing them notes informing them they’re being taped. Well, as admirable as that is, it was strictly made-for-TV. In reality, Belfort ratted out any and all involved with his schemes in exchange for a reduced sentence. Apparently, the “wolf” couldn’t handle the thought of a cage and morphed into a rat pretty damn quickly.
8. He Had His Secretary Buy Illegal Substances For Him
It’s no secret Jordan Belfort loved drugs. It was a major plot point in the film, as well as a major component to his memoir. He was even famously quoted saying he did enough drugs in one day to “sedate Guatemala.” Belfort didn’t discriminate when it came to his daily intake, reportedly surviving on a diet of marijuana, cocaine, morphine, Adderall, Xanax and booze, but his all time favorite were Quaaludes. A powerful prescription downer made illegal in the mid-1980s, the drug is now infamous as the tiny little pill Bill Cosby would slip into the drinks of unsuspecting ladies. However, Belfort ingested these babies for kicks throughout the 90s and loved them so much that when he exasperated his stash in London he called on his secretary back in NYC to help him out. At around 4 A.M. Belfort was in need of a hit and made an emergency call back to the home of his administrative assistant who immediately sent a package of drugs across the pond on a concord, a plane typically reserved for the wealthiest of wealthy people. A truly shameful abuse of money and power while there are innocent people starving on the streets.
7. He Didn’t Exactly Do “Hard” Time
The image above is the layout of a typical jail cell in one of America’s nicer prisons, and when Jordan Belfort was indicted for security fraud and money laundering charges he was originally sentenced to a four-year stint behind bars such as these. However, as we’ve seen with many other high-priced convicts (i.e. Pablo Escobar, Enron execs etc.) these living conditions are unsuitable and are never fit for such offenders. More often than not, people with money get sent to a more luxurious type of prison, and Belfort was no exception. After the steel bars slammed shut, he reduced his sentence down to measly twenty-two months due to a plea deal. He then spent a short period in solitary confinement, believe it or not, but was soon after transferred to a what authorities refer to as a “low-security work camp” complete with tennis courts and libraries. So, if you thought these white-collar hoodlums were getting a fair punishment after the gavel dropped, well, I hate to break the news to you, they’re really just getting a vacation paid for by your tax dollars.
6. He Didn’t Want To Be A Broker
No kid has ever aspired to be a stock broker, and if you can find one who does amidst the potential firemen and superheroes, I advise you to check his I.D. because that kid is almost certainly a little person in disguise. The stock market is boring, especially to a child. It’s essentially a bunch of adults yelling at numbers on a screen, so it’s no surprise it wasn’t little Jordan Belfort’s first career choice. In fact, he chose another relatively dull field, dentistry. As a kid, Belfort sold Italian ice on the beach and eventually saved up $20,000 to pay for dentistry school (crooked or not that’s an impressive feat), but his dreams of becoming a renowned mouth doctor were thrown into the trash on his very first day of freshman year. Apparently, the Dean took him aside and told him “the golden age of dentistry was over and not to expect to become rich.” That was enough for the money hungry Belfort to jump ship right then and there. Side note: am I the only one who was unaware there was a golden age of dentistry?
5. He’s A Motivational Speaker
In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort gives a slew of invigorating speeches to his employees in order to rile up his loyal troops, and that was in fact, no exaggeration. The guy obviously has the gift of gab, you can prove that strictly by looking at how many people he talked into investing in utter crap, but what’s a fella to do when the law forbids him from running his once successful business? He begins to teach others how to start one, of course! Since being released from prison, Belfort has made quite the name for himself speaking to groups of would-be businessmen who pay upwards of $400 a seat to hear him spout off famous quotes like, “Sell me this pen,” and “the only thing standing between you and your dreams is that bulls**t story you keep telling yourself.” Hey, I’ll be the first sucker to tell you that I’ve seen the latter copy and pasted onto some motivational Instagram posts and it has in fact, lit a small but effective fire under my butt, even if it was for only a few seconds.
4. He Actually Makes More Money Now
As I stated earlier, Belfort made $110 million off of unsuspecting people, at least that’s what the government was able to seize. According to the wolf himself, he was making about $49 million a year, and even is said to have made $12 million in three minutes at one point. Since being released from the clink, Belfort has made his living as an author, a motivational speaker, and of course, let’s not forget the movie rights. When it was all said and done, he was set to make more than $100 million in 2014. If you can’t count, that’s more than double what he made at his peak in the 90s. The man gets paid between $30,000 and $80,000 for every speech he gives to an audience, a hefty sum especially when you take into account he does about 45 tour dates a year. And although it may seem Belfort is on the straight and narrow, many would disagree and argue he’s profiting off of his criminal activity, and in turn, exploiting each one of his victims every time he tells his story. Either way, Jordan Belfort is a rich man and he’s made it crystal clear he intends on keeping it that way.
3. There Were Never Any Chimps In The Office
There are many notable scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street, as there are in any Leo/Scorsese collaboration, but one of the more famous was when Leo as Jordan Belfort struts around the offices of Stratton-Oakmont with a chimpanzee. The scene stands out as a simple metaphor of how primal and blatantly wild the company was, but alas it was strictly written for the film and never actually took place. Danny Porush (or Donny played by Jonah Hill) addressed the scene a few years ago by stating, “There was never a chimpanzee in the office. There were no animals in the office… I would also never abuse an animal in any way.” However, it is apparently 100% fact that Porush gulped down a goldfish to prove a point to one of his employees. “I said to one of the brokers, ‘If you don’t do more business, I’m gonna eat your goldfish!'” the former Stratton-Oakmont president remembered, “So I did.”
2. He Really Did Sink His Ship
Like I said before, there are dozens of memorable moments in The Wolf of Wall Street. Only thing is, some of the little things that seem totally plausible given the circumstances (i.e. bringing a chimp into the office) aren’t actually factual, however, some of the events you may have written off as too extravagant to take place did, in fact, occur. Take Jordan Belfort’s yacht, for instance. The 167-foot luxury vessel, Belfort named after his wife, Nadine, was the host to many wild office parties, and it did indeed (according to F.B.I. reports) sink off the coast of Italy. In 1996, while traveling through the extremely choppy waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Belfort, who was higher than the Empire State Building off of god knows what (most likely quaaludes) chose to disregard the captain’s orders and demanded he powered through the storm. Which proved to be an irresponsible choice since the yacht capsized shortly thereafter. Luckily, no one was injured and the passengers and crew were saved by the Italian navy. According to Belfort, the only thing the movie got wrong was when they showed his helicopter slipping off of the yacht into the water. In reality, he says they had to physically push the helicopter off themselves to make room for a rescue chopper.
1. Tommy Chong Is The Reason The Wolf of Wall Street Happened
Strange, right? They are actually besties. You wouldn’t expect a millionaire stockbroker from Long Island to befriend a Mexican stoner who’s notoriety peaked in the 70s, and yet here we are. The two actually met in prison, in fact, they were cellmates. Talk about luck. Belfort gets locked up after swindling millions, he gets paired with one man who’s known the world over for being “a pretty chill dude.” Chong was doing time for illegally selling bongs (yes, that was a punishable offense in the early 2000s) and was the one who not only suggested Belfort try his hand at motivational speaking but even encouraged him to pick up a pen and write his life story. If it wasn’t for Tommy Chong, The Wolf of Wall Street would have never been made. Leo and Scorsese would have never linked up for another picture, and Jordan Belfort wouldn’t still be raking in the dough. Well, he probably would be, but not from book sales.