Was Jordan Belfort accurately portrayed in Wolf of Wall street?

Rizvi Haider
5 min readJul 13, 2020

The film follows most insane stories in the memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street, closely and even includes much of the same dialogues. But is it a true portrayal of Jordan Belfort’s life?

The 2013 Martin Scorsese masterpiece, The Wolf of Wall Street, is an adaptation of a self-memoir by the same name, written by the notable author Jordan Belfort himself in 2007. The film is notorious for Leonardo DiCaprio’s unparalleled portrayal of a former stockbroker, who embezzled millions of dollars through a series of financial crimes including securities fraud, money laundering, stock market manipulation and running a broiler room operation as part of a penny-stock scam in the 1990s, for which Leonardo won a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination for best actor later the same year.

Related Article: Jordan Belfort: Real Wolf of Wall Street sues film studio for $300m

Since the movie extensively blurred the lines between fiction and reality, it is impossible to know exactly which parts of the blockbuster were correctly portrayed and which ones were invented to juice up the storyline a bit, although Time magazine confirms the consistency of many incidents of the film with Belfort’s book. For starters, nobody called Jordan Belfort the Wolf of Wall Street in real life, according to his business partner. It is just a title that he gave to himself in his memoir, perhaps to gain notoriety.

Below you will find a comparison between some key elements of Jordan Belfort’s life and how accurately the screenwriters and the ensemble cast represented them:

Stratton Oakmont

The film’s representation of the boiler room is accurate to a great extent. After filing for bankruptcy at the age of 25 years for his meat-selling business and working for L. F. Rothschild as a stockbroker until 1987, Jordan Belfort founded a franchise of Stratton Securities, a popular Wall Street brokerage Stratton Oakmont in 1989, which eventually served as a boiler room that marketed and sold penny stocks. Through this brokerage firm, that at one point employed more than 1,000 stock brokers, Jordan and his partners scammed thousands of investors for over $200 million through a new type of stock sales called “Pump and Dump”, that worked by artificially inflating the prices of stocks and selling them to inexperienced financiers by cold calling and convincing them with positive and misleading statements. The firm was eventually involved in stock issues of more than US$1 billion worth.

Soon after its establishment in 1989, Stratton Oakmont came under the radar of law enforcement agencies and the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and remain under constant scrutiny till its dismissal in 1996 by NASD. Belfort and his long-time neighbor and partner, whose name was changed from Danny Porush to Donne Azoff for the film, were indicted for money laundering and securities fraud in 1999, where they each served at least 20 months in correctional facilities.

Extramarital affairs

When Jordan gained rapid success after defrauding several investors through his firm, he slid into a degenerate lifestyle of debauchery and became severely addicted to fornication. It was not much later when his then wife found about his unfaithfulness, to which he left her and continued having escorts over at his house or anywhere he felt suitable. Even after marrying a supermodel in 1991, he did not let go of his habitual infidelity until she found out about it too.

The film has added several scenes in which half-naked girls are seen roaming around at parties and offices but it was mostly done for adding a dramatic effect.

Personal life

When Jordan started Stratton Oakmont, he was still married to his first wife, Denise Lombardo, whose identity in the movie was changed to Teresa Petrillo, but when she found about his extravagant lifestyle and infidelity, he left her and began an affair with an influential model and actress he met at one of the many parties he threw at his mansions throughout his years of success. He later married the same woman, named Nadine Caridi, whose identity was disguised as Naomi Lapaglia in the successful adaptation of his memoir.

According to the screenplay, when Naomi finally came to know about his unfaithful nature, she became highly enraged and refused to have coitus with him. Getting rejected by his wife over and over again, Jordan started to physically assault her by hands and fists. In reality, Jordan admitted to kicking her down the stairs after she refused to cooperate.

Substance Abuse

Along with prostitution, Jordan and his team reportedly became addicted to Cocaine, Xanax, Morphine and a drug called Quaalude after succeeding in amassing millions of dollars in less than a year. Although Jordan has admitted to his continued high-profile- drug habits in his memoir, the movie shows a number of scenes at office and parties where everyone is seen snorting cocaine out in the open, which was an exaggeration and was purportedly added to the film to introduce an entertainment factor.

Luxurious cars

Out of the many expensive cars that Jordan kept during his brokerage career, the highlights are the white Ferrari Testarossa and Lamborghini Countach, both of which the writers managed to get right in the movie. Towards the end of the adaptation, Jordan is seen drunk driving and subsequently wrecking his white Lamborghini for which he got arrested, but in reality he crashed his Mercedes.

Other incidents

Danny Porush, the partner and second in command at Stratton Oakmont, has denied the allegations of a monkey or chimpanzee ever being in their office. Similarly, the offensive dwarf-throwing game and their physical abuse never took place at parties or offices, although dwarfs were once brought at their office for entertainment. However leaving out Jordan’s real-life helicopter crash incident from the film’s screenplay, the writers left countless fans wanting more.

Originally published at https://www.rizvihaider.com on July 13, 2020.