Did you know that The Wolf Of Wall Street was based on an autobiographical book with the same title? A story based on the life of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort, where both the book and the film tell an incredible tale of greed, debauchery and outrageous behavior.
Watched by an audience of millions, the film scooped both Academy Awards and Golden Globes, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role plus a supporting cast of famous names.
Anyone who’s read the book or watched the film will know just how immoral and depraved the story becomes – but is any of it really true? Here’s the lowdown on the real Wolf of Wall Street.
From the Wolf’s Mouth
The film religiously follows the contents of the book, which Jordan Belfort himself writes. This means that there’s no filter on the information being provided; Belfort tells the story in his own words.
Very few people have an immaculate recollection of events, but both the book and the film rely almost entirely on Belfort’s own memories and perception. An arrogant stockbroker obsessed with acquiring wealth, it’s entirely possible that Jordan Belfort wasn’t candid with his version of events.
Before we delve closer into the facts as corroborated by others, it’s worth mentioning that the one thing that’s undisputed is Jordan Belfort’s ability to tap into accurate share market news.
While working for L.F Rothschild, Belfort had a promising career as a stockbroker, only for it to come crashing to the ground when Black Monday wiped 20% off the stock market, leaving many traders without a job.
He then moved into a boiler room, specialising in selling penny stocks on pump and dump schemes. While Belfort’s monetary success owed a large part to his aggressive sales tactics and high commission, his knowledge of the stock market underpinned his success.
Many of the events in the film and the book seem to be too ludicrous to be true. But according to numerous sources, even some of the most outlandish claims are true.
Jordan Belfort claimed to have crashed a helicopter, had his yacht sunk, driven his sports cars while high on drugs and taken a chimp into the office. Somewhat unbelievably, all of these events have been corroborated as 100% genuine. Other bizarre tales such as his partner eating a colleague’s live goldfish and inviting dwarves to the office party as entertainment are also accurate.
The man now known as the Wolf of Wall Street is renowned for his fascination with prostitutes and for drug-fuelled parties. After becoming obsessed with one particular woman, he abandoned his wife and children, but that didn’t stop him from participating in orgies and sex parties, especially while high.
And it’s not just Belfort who is enjoying the hedonistic lifestyle. In the movie, Mark Hanna, played by Matthew McConaughey, is seen telling Belfort that the secret to success was “masturbation, cocaine and hookers“.
Scorsese didn’t make up that line; it’s actually what Hanna said to Belfort in real life and possibly sums up succinctly precisely what life was like at the time.
It’s true that Belfort does seem to enjoy revelling in just how debauched his life was and the sordid twists and turns. There are certainly some recollections that may be slightly amplified or tweaked.
However, an FBI agent tracked the “Wolf” for ten years, watching his every move and collecting evidence – and he has reluctantly backed up the claims, adding weight to the assertion that Jordan Belfort’s version really is an accurate depiction of what went on.