Belfort, Jordan 1962-

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Belfort, Jordan 1962-

PERSONAL:

Born 1962; married (divorced); children: two.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Manhattan Beach, NY.

CAREER:

Writer. Stratton Oakmont (investment firm), New York, NY, founder. Former meat salesman.

WRITINGS:

The Wolf of Wall Street, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Wolf of Wall Street has been optioned for a film to be directed by Martin Scorcese and slated to star Leonardo DiCaprio.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jordan Belfort founded the Wall Street brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont and went on to make a fortune for both himself and his brokerage agents via micro-cap investing. Micro-cap stocks, sometimes referred to as penny stocks, are some of the smallest public companies whose diminutive size often leads them to go unnoticed by the large majority of investors. The only problem with Belfort's investing scheme is that it was illegal, and he ended up swindling numerous investors for an estimated one hundred million to two hundred million dollars. "Jordan Belfort is the biggest Wall Street crook you've never heard of," wrote Jane Wells for CNBC.com Web site. "He was the king of funny business (not in the ha-ha way) during the bull market of the '90s, nicknamed ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’"

Belfort tells his story of greed, deception, and the high life of drugs and ostentatious spending in his book, appropriately named The Wolf of Wall Street. According to the author, he got the idea for his book while serving time in prison for his misdeeds. His cellmate was the comedian Tommy Chong, known best for starring in several "Cheech and Chong" films, who had landed in prison for selling bongs, a way to smoke marijuana and other drugs, over the Internet. "There's nothing to do in jail except tell stories, so we started telling each other stories," Belfort told Dominic Rushe in an article for the London Times. "Tommy said, ‘You've got to write a book.’" The author also told Rushe that he patterned his book on Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, a novel from which he can recite whole passages after having read it several times.

In his book, Belfort details how he made thousands of dollars a minute and then spent the money on drugs, ostentatious living, sex with prostitutes (even though he was married at the time), and international globetrotting. Among the exploits the author describes in his book are sinking a 170-foot motor yacht, crashing a helicopter, and running up a seven hundred thousand dollar hotel tab, all the while high on a variety of drugs as he left his wife and kids at home. He also describes how he accosted a flight attendant, destroyed his living room in a drug-fueled rampage, and even hit his wife. "I know some people might say, ‘He is an evil guy, rotten to the core, I hope he burns at the stake,’" Belfort told Landon Thomas, Jr., in an article for the New York Times. "But people are entitled to redeem themselves. I made some terrible mistakes. But a leopard can change his spots."

In his book, Belfort relates how he hired a group of young stockbrokers, who reverentially referred to Belfort as "king," and guided them in fast-talking clients into dubious investments, primarily by reading from a script he developed to lure unsuspecting investors into his scheme. "Belfort had a motto: ‘No one hangs up the phone until the customer buys or dies,’" wrote a contributor to the London Telegraph. Rushe described Belfort's scam this way: "During the 1990s, Belfort made a fortune giving the hard sell to shares his team were artificially ramping. When the suckers bought in at the top, he would sell out—dumping his clients with multi-million-dollar losses."

Belfort describes in his book how the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) zeroed in on him and his cohorts. He also writes about his fateful partnership with a new shoe designer named Steve Madden, who worked with Belfort to drive up the price of his company's stock. The scam involved Madden promising to sell shares of his stock back to Belfort at Stratton Oakmont and others at Monroe Parker Securities after the price went up. "The shares were then dumped on the public, which lost virtually everything," noted Dan Ackman in an article for the Forbes.com Web site. After getting arrested by the authorities, Belfort wore a recording device and gathered evidence on his former colleagues and associates, including Madden.

"After wading through all 519 lurid pages of The Wolf of Wall Street, readers may find themselves agreeing with the former executive at LP Rothschild who—in the opening sentence of the book—informs a fresh-faced Belfort that he is ‘lower than pond scum,’" wrote a contributor to the London Telegraph. As for Belfort, he professes remorse and is working to pay off the money he scammed from people, as ordered by the federal court that convicted him of securities fraud and money laundering.

While reviewers noted the depravity of Belfort's life and his underhanded dealings that caused anguish to many, some nevertheless gave The Wolf of Wall Street favorable reviews. "Belfort's portrait of his family is vivid, as is his depiction of the merry cast of supporting players," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, who also called the book "entertaining as pulp fiction." Rushe commented that "the book is laugh-out-loud funny."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Belfort, Jordan, The Wolf of Wall Street, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Bookseller, April 27, 2007, "Wall Street Wolf to Hodder," p. 13.

Business Week, December 29, 1997, "Checking out a Penny-stock Kingpin," p. 6.

Business Wire, October 1, 1997, "Belfort Increases Stake in Steve Madden, Ltd.," p. 10011336.

Forbes, October 14, 1991, Roula Khalaf, "Steaks, Stocks—What's the Difference?," p. 82; April 27, 1992, Edward Giltenan, "Rotten Meat," p. 12; December 7, 1992, Richard Phalon, "Walking Wounded," p. 128; June 7, 1993, Roula Khalaf, "Boca Raton, Here We Come," p. 70; June 7, 1993, Roula Khalaf, "Fun, Games and Out-Takes," p. 71; October 5, 1998, Heidi Brown, "Bottom of the Bucket?," p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of The Wolf of Wall Street.

Long Island Business News, November 3, 2000, Tom Hays, "Stock Fraud Mastermind Reemerges," p. 8.

New York Times, November 21, 1993, Floyd Norris, "Despite Nasdaq, Penny Stocks Still Flourish," p. 1; February 3, 1994, Leslie Eaton, "A Brokerage Firm Agrees to Pay $2.5 Million in Penalties," p. 6; March 29, 1994, "Broker's Suit Is Dismissed," p. 5; September 11, 2007, Landon Thomas, Jr., "In the Ashes of His Life as a Broker, Inspiration," profile of author and the book The Wolf of Wall Street.

Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2007, review of The Wolf of Wall Street, p. 57.

Telegraph (London, England), February 25, 2008, "Jordan Belfort: Confessions of the Wolf of Wall Street."

Times (London, England), September 30, 2007, Dominic Rushe, "A Novel Tale of Broker's Greed," review of The Wolf of Wall Street.

Wall Street Journal Western Edition, February 3, 1994, "Stratton Oakmont Agrees to Settlement in Nova Stock Case," p. 2; September 4, 1998, Frances A. McMorris, "Stratton Oakmont Ex-officers Face Charges of Fraud," p. 8; July 12, 1999, "Stratton Oakmont's Ex-chairman Fined in Arbitration Move," p. 24.

ONLINE

CNBC.com,http://www.cnbc.com/ (October 3, 2007), Jane Wells, "Who's Jordan Belfort? I'll Tell You Exactly Who He Is."

Forbes.com,http://www.forbes.com/ (June 21, 2000), Dan Ackman, "Feds Say Shoe Company Chief Manipulated IPOs."

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