'The Wolf of Wall Street' is set to prowl again

Martin Scorsese's new film about the notorious Jordon Belfort has the financial scamster in the spotlight once more.

By Jonathan Berr Jun 19, 2013 10:53AM
If the recently released trailer is any indication, Martin Scorsese's new film "The Wolf of Wall Street" may be Hollywood's most scathing look at the world of high finance since Oliver Stone's 1987 classic "Wall Street."

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie is based on a book by Jordan Belfort, who was convicted of swindling investors out of more than $100 million. It's being distributed by Viacom's (VIA) Paramount Studios and is slated for release in November.

Belfort is no hero. CNBC's John Carney describes him as "a nasty piece of work," which is understandable. A federal prosecutor called Stratton Oakmont, the firm Belfort ran in the 1990s, "the most infamous boiler-room brokerage firm in recent memory."

Judging from the debauchery featured in the trailer, Belfort certainly had his share of fun while he and his cronies manipulated the shares of at least 34 companies over a seven-year period. But whatever people think of his past misdeeds, Belfort knows how to turn lemons into lemonade: He now markets himself as a public speaker. His official biography is a testament to the power of positive thinking.

'The Wolf of Wall Street' film set in New York City, on Sep. 25, 2012 (© Buzz Foto/Rex Features)"As the owner of one of the biggest and most successful brokerage firms in Wall Street history and having raised over $1.5 billion in startup capital, Jordan has real-world experience and expertise in this arena that is unmatched," according to Belfort's website. "Jordan also had the experience of watching his world crash down around him, as he was incarcerated for securities fraud and served 22 months in federal prison as a result."

Thanks to his time in prison, Belfort says, he's "uniquely positioned" help people create wealth and use it for the public good. If "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a hit, demand for Belfort's services as a public speaker will certainly rise.

But even in Belfort's case, crime does not pay. As Carney noted, the former money man is obligated to pay the victims of his crimes 50% of his gross income until they recoup the $100 million he stole.

Carney wrote, "Even if this movie is the smash hit of the century, Belfort's not going to ever manage that."

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jun 19, 2013 12:28PM
How ironic that this little piece on "The Wolf of Wall Street", a swindler of $100 million, should appear on the same day we read about a $100 million dollar vacation trip for the First Family to Africa! Does anyone recall a movie about a bloated government swindle? Just asking.
Jun 19, 2013 12:11PM
Thanks for pointing out. I will fix.
Is his name Jason or Jordan? Apparently the author of this article is not quite sure.
Jun 19, 2013 10:33PM
I am so sick and tired of criminals being hero worshipped on film. The guy's a thief! He should have gotten 22 years in jail.
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