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The Wolf of Wall Street: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie
based on Jordan Belfort's memoir 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Leonardo DiCaprio
Born: November 11, 1974
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Jordan Belfort
Born: July 6, 1962
Birthplace: Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Jonah Hill
Born: December 20, 1983
Los Angeles, California, USA
Danny Porush
Born: February 1957
Birthplace: Lawrence, New York, USA
Matthew McConaughey
Born: November 4, 1969
Uvalde, Texas, USA
Mark Hanna
Margot Robbie
Born: July 2, 1990
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Nadine Macaluso (formerly Nadine Belfort)
Born: November 6, 1962
Birthplace: New York, USA
Kyle Chandler
Born: September 17, 1965
Buffalo, New York, USA
Gregory Coleman
Rob Reiner
Born: March 6, 1947
The Bronx, New York, USA
Max Belfort
Mackenzie Meehan
Nancy Porush
Born: November 2, 1961
The a distant relative of the truth, and the film is a distant relative of the book. -Danny Porush, Mother Jones, December 10, 2013

Questioning the Story:

Did Jordan Belfort really meet his future business partner in a restaurant?

Jordan, Nadine, Nancy and Danny
Jordan (left), with his then wife Nadine, was introduced to Danny Porush (right) via Danny's then wife Nancy (center right).
No. In the movie, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) first encounters Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) at a diner after noticing Belfort's Jaguar in the parking lot. He tells Belfort that if he show's him a pay stub with $72,000 on it, he will quit his job immediately and start working for him. In reality, the real Donnie Azoff, Danny Porush, was introduced to Jordan Belfort by his wife, who had met Belfort on the bus during her daily commute to the city. She says that Belfort always gave up his seat for her. She thought he was nice and quickly realized that he lived in their apartment building. She later introduced her husband to him, figuring that Jordan might be able to help Danny with his struggling private ambulette business. After just one conversation with Jordan, Danny came home and told his wife that he was going to take the Series 7 exam to get his stockbroker's license. The rest is history.

What was the name of Belfort's brokerage house?

The Wolf of Wall Street true story confirms that, like in the movie, Stratton Oakmont was the name of the real Jordan Belfort's Long Island, New York brokerage house. Belfort and co-founder Danny Porush (played by Jonah Hill in the movie) chose the name because it sounded prestigious ( The firm would later be accused of manipulating the IPOs of at least 34 companies, including Steve Madden Ltd. (their biggest deal), Dualstar Technologies, Paramount Financial, D.V.I. Financial, M. H. Meyerson & Co., Czech Industries, M.V.S.I. Technology, Questron Technologies, and Etel Communications.

What exactly did Jordan Belfort do that was illegal?

Belfort's Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm ran a classic "pump and dump" operation. Belfort and several of his executives would buy up a particular company's stock and then have an army of brokers (following a script he had prepared) sell it to unsuspecting investors. This would cause the stock to rise, pretty much guaranteeing Belfort and his associates a substantial profit. Soon, the stock would fall back to reality, with the investors bearing a significant loss.

How many employees worked for Jordan Belfort's brokerage firm?

At its peak in the 1990s, Stratton Oakmont, Belfort's firm that he co-founded with Danny Porush, employed more than 1,000 brokers.

Dwarf Tossing Competition
Danny Porush says the movie's dwarf-tossing scene (above) never happened. Even Belfort's book only discusses it as a possibility.
Did Jordan Belfort really host an in-office dwarf-tossing competition?

No. "We never abused [or threw] the midgets in the office; we were friendly to them," Danny Porush (the real Donnie Azoff) says. "There was no physical abuse." Porush does admit that the firm hired little people to attend at least one party. Jordan Belfort's memoir The Wolf of Wall Street only discusses the tossing of little people as a possibility, not something that actually happened.

During what years did the events in the movie take place?

The events in The Wolf of Wall Street movie took place during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jordan Belfort and Danny Porush founded the brokerage firm of Stratton Oakmont in the late 1980s. The securities fraud and money laundering charges brought against the firm involved companies that Stratton Oakmont helped raise money for in public stock offerings from 1990 through 1997. In 1996, Stratton Oakmont was banned from the brokerage industry, which eventually forced the company to close its doors.

Was Jordan Belfort really known as the "wolf" of Wall Street?

No, at least not according to the former co-founder and president of the Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm, Danny Porush (portrayed by Jonah Hill in the movie). The real Porush says that he is not aware of anyone at the firm calling Jordan the "wolf." Porush says that it's just one of a number of exaggerations and inventions in both Belfort's book and the movie.

Is Matthew McConaughey's character, Mark Hanna, based on a real person?

Yes. In exploring The Wolf of Wall Street true story, we learned that Jordan Belfort claims to have met Matthew McConaughey's character's real-life counterpart, Mark Hanna, in 1987 when he was working at the old-money trading firm of L.F. Rothschild. His new acquaintance was an uproarious senior broker at the firm and introduced Belfort to the excess and debauchery that Belfort would later make a daily staple at Stratton Oakmont. Like in the movie, the real Mark Hanna behind McConaughey's character told Belfort that the key to success was masturbation, cocaine and hookers, in addition to making your customers reinvest their winnings so you can collect the commissions.

Did Jordan Belfort really abuse cocaine and other drugs?

Yes. In The Wolf of Wall Street movie, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is shown snorting cocaine off a prostitute's backside and nearly crashing his private helicopter while high on a cocktail of prescription drugs, including Quaaludes, morphine and Xanax. In researching The Wolf of Wall Street true story, it quickly became clear that Belfort used drugs heavily in real life too. In his memoir, he states that at times he had enough "running through my circulatory system to sedate Guatemala."

Jordan Belfort with the mic in the movie and real life
Jordan Belfort did give speeches like DiCaprio in the movie (left). Right: The real Belfort speaks at a 1994 Stratton Oakmont Christmas party (right).
Did Belfort really stand in front of his employees and give riling speeches with a microphone?

Yes. Belfort was known to stir his troops into action by belting out words of motivation through a microphone. However, his speeches were often filled with more self-adulation than DiCaprio's speeches in the movie.

Did a female employee really let them shave her head for $10,000 to pay for breast implants?

The real Jordan Belfort claims this is true in his memoir. The female employee let them shave off her blonde hair for $10,000, which she used to pay for D-cup breast implants. Co-founder Danny Porush also says that the shaving took place, "...the worst we ever did was shave somebody's head and then pay 'em ten grand for it," says Porush.

Was Jordan Belfort's Quaalude dealer in the movie, Brad Bodnick (Jon Bernthal), based on a real person?

Yes. The character in the movie, Brad Bodnick, who has a goatee and is portrayed by The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal, is based on Jordan Belfort's real-life Quaalude supplier, Todd Garret. In his memoir, the real Jordan Belfort claims that Garret sold him approximately 10,000 Quaaludes.

Was there ever a chimpanzee in the office?

No. According to co-founder Danny Porush (played by Jonah Hill in the movie), the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio's character pals around with a chimp is pure monkey business. "There was never a chimpanzee in the office," says Porush. "There were no animals in the office...I would also never abuse an animal in any way" (though he does admit to eating the goldfish, see below).

Did he really almost crash his helicopter in his yard?

Yes. In his memoir, Jordan Belfort writes that he was flying his private helicopter while high on Quaaludes and nearly crashed it in his yard.

Jordan Belfort helicopter
According to the real Belfort (right, shirtless), he did nearly crash his private helicopter while high on drugs. Leonardo DiCaprio prepares for takeoff in the movie (left).

Did Danny Porush really marry his own first cousin?

Yes. According to Jordan Belfort's memoir, the real Donnie Azoff (whose actual name is Danny Porush) did marry his first cousin Nancy "because she was a real piece of ass." After twelve years of marriage, the couple divorced in 1998 after Danny told Nancy that he was in love with another woman ( Danny and his ex-wife share three children together.

Did Belfort and his colleagues really have drug-addled nights and sexcapades with prostitutes on a near daily basis?

Though the movie and Belfort's memoir might seem like gross exaggerations of the truth, depicting heavy drug use and sexcapades in the office during trading hours, they're not exaggerations at all says the F.B.I. agent who finally took Belfort into custody, "I tracked this guy for ten years, and everything he wrote is true." Kyle Chandler portrays the agent in the Martin Scorsese movie.

Was Belfort really arrested for crashing his Lamborghini while high on expired Quaaludes?

Yes, but according to Belfort the car wasn't a Lamborghini like in the movie, it was a Mercedes. He was so high in a drug daze that he couldn't remember causing several different accidents as he tried to make his way home. In real life, one of the accidents was a head-on collision that actually sent a woman to the hospital.

Donnie Azoff eats a goldfish
The real Donnie Azoff, Daniel Porush, says that he really did swallow a goldfish like Jonah Hill (pictured).
Did Danny Porush really swallow a goldfish?

Yes. According to the real Donnie Azoff, whose actual name is Danny Porush, the scene where Jonah Hill's character eats a goldfish is based on a true story. "I said to one of the brokers, 'If you don't do more business, I'm gonna eat your goldfish!'" Porush recalls. "So I did."

Did they really tape money to a woman's body?

In one scene of The Wolf of Wall Street movie, bricks of cash are taped to a Swiss woman's body. "[I] never taped money to boobs," the real Danny Porush says (played by Jonah Hill in the movie). According to Jordan Belfort's memoir, the event did happen but his partner Porush wasn't there.

Was footwear mogul Steve Madden really involved in Belfort's scheme?

Yes. As shown in The Wolf of Wall Street movie, Steve Madden had been a childhood friend of Belfort's partner Danny Porush (renamed Donnie Azoff in the movie and portrayed by actor Jonah Hill). Their fondness for drugs and alcohol reunited the two of them. During the initial public offering of his footwear company, Steve Madden Ltd., Madden acquired a large number of shares of his company, which were actually being controlled by Belfort and his firm, Stratton Oakmont. Once shares became available to the public, Stratton Oakmont got down to the business of selling them to unsuspecting suckers. Billing Madden's company as the hottest issue on Wall Street, Belfort's brokers in turn drove up the price. Eventually, Steve Madden was to sell off his shares when the hype was at its peak, just before the stock began its inevitable decline. Similar to what is seen in the movie, Belfort still maintains that Steve Madden tried to steal his Steve Madden shares from him. However, Jordan Belfort did make approximately $23 million in two hours as part of the deal with Steve Madden, who would later be charged as an accomplice to Belfort's scheme.

For his part, Steve Madden was sentenced to 41 months in prison and was forced to resign as CEO of Steve Madden Ltd. He also resigned from the company's board of directors. However, he did not leave the company entirely. He kept his foot (or shoe) in the door by giving himself the title of creative consultant, for which he was well-compensated even while he was in prison.

Did Jordan Belfort really name his yacht after his wife?

Yes. The real-life yacht was named "The Nadine" after Belfort's wife, who, like in the movie, he affectionately referred to as "The Duchess of Bay Ridge." In the movie, the yacht bears the name "Naomi" after the character portrayed by Margot Robbie (Belfort's wife's name was changed for the film).

Jordan and Nadine movie and real life
In the movie (left), Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) surprises his wife (Margot Robbie) with a yacht that bears her name. Right: The real Jordan and his now ex-wife relax at sea in the 1990s.

Did Belfort's yacht really sink in a Mediterranean storm?

Yes. In real life, Belfort's 167-foot yacht, which was originally owned by Coco Chanel, sunk off the coast of Italy when Belfort, who was high on drugs at the time, insisted that the captain take the boat through a storm ( Listen to Belfort tell the story during The Room Live's Jordan Belfort interview. As he states in the interview, his helicopter didn't fall off the boat during the storm like in the movie. Instead, they had to push the helicopter off of the top deck of the boat to make room for the rescue chopper to drop down an Italian Navy commando.

How long did FBI agent Gregory Coleman spend tracking Jordan Belfort and his firm?

FBI agent Gregory Coleman, renamed Patrick Denham for the film and portrayed by actor Kyle Chandler, made tracking Belfort and his firm, Stratton Oakmont, a top priority for six years. In an interview (watch here), Coleman says that the factors that drew his attention to the firm were "the flashiness, the brashness of their activities, the blatantness of the way they were soliciting people and cold calling people, and the number of victims that were complaining on a daily basis." -CNBC

Did Jordan really strike his wife?

Yes. The Wolf of Wall Street movie shows Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) hitting his wife (Margot Robbie) with his hand and fist. According to his memoir, he actually kicked his wife Nadine down the stairs while he was holding his daughter. She landed on her right side with "tremendous force."

Did Belfort really endanger his 3-year-old daughter's life by crashing his car through the garage door?

Yes. In real life, he put his daughter Chandler in the front seat of the car without a seat belt on, before crashing it through the garage door and then driving full speed into a six-foot-high limestone pillar at the edge of the driveway. Like in the movie, he was high at the time.

Jordan Belfort cellmate
Tommy Chong was Jordan Belfort's cellmate in prison and encouraged him to write the book.
What was Jordan Belfort's punishment?

When he was finally arrested in 1998 for money laundering and securities fraud, Jordan Belfort was sentenced to four years in prison. This was after agreeing to wear a wire and provide the FBI with information to help prosecute various friends and associates. In the end, the true story reveals that he served only 22 months in a California federal prison. His cellmate in prison was Tommy Chong of "Cheech and Chong" fame, who was serving a nine month sentence for selling bongs.

What inspired Jordan Belfort to write his memoir?

It wasn't so much a what as it was a who. Tommy Chong (one half of "Cheech and Chong") was Jordan Belfort's cellmate in prison. After laughing at some of Belfort's stories from his days running the firm, Chong encouraged him to write a book.

Why is Jordan Belfort's memoir filled with so many exclamations?

Jordan Belfort attempted to model his writing after Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), who was known for using plenty of exclamation points.

What happened to Belfort's partner, Danny Porush, portrayed by Jonah Hill in the movie?

Danny Porush, renamed Donnie Azoff for the movie and played by actor Jonah Hill, served 39 months in prison for his part in the corrupt dealings of Stratton Oakmont, the firm that he co-founded with Jordan Belfort. Porush currently runs a medical supply business in Florida, where he lives with his second wife Lisa in a $4 million mansion. A 2008 Forbes article pointed out his company's fraudulent tactics, which included trying to persuade people to order diabetic supplies and getting them to provide information about their physicians that could be used to bill Medicare. A number of complaints surfaced accusing Porush's company of sending unsolicited packages that were accompanied by unexpected Medicare charges.

Back in 2001, Porush was arrested in connection to a fraud scheme surrounding Noble & Perrault Collectibles, a company that sold commemorative coins over the phone. Victims saw their credit cards charged repeatedly, at times for thousands of dollars, while often never receiving any merchandise for purchases that were largely unauthorized to begin with. -Sun Sentinel

Enjoying a well-to-do life in Florida, Daniel Porush and his wife drive matching Rolls-Royce Corniche convertibles. With regard to The Wolf of Wall Street movie, Porush said, "I really have no comment other than to say I would never try to profit from a crime I'm so remorseful for."

I heard that Jordan Belfort is a motivational speaker, is that true?

Jordan Belfort Motivational Speaker
The real Jordan Belfort became a motivational speaker and corporate consultant.
Ironically, yes. In addition to writing two books, The Wolf of Wall Street and its sequel Catching the Wolf of Wall Street, the real Jordan Belfort works as a motivational speaker and a private and corporate consultant. As a motivational speaker, he is sometimes paid more than $30,000 a speech ( His personal website states that he is able to consult with companies on "business strategies, sales training, ethics in business, or how to raise venture capital."

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who portrays Jordan in the movie, cut a short video to help promote his motivational speaking business. DiCaprio ended the video by saying, "Jordan stands as a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work, and in that regard, he is a true motivator." -Keppler Speakers

How much did Jordan Belfort earn from his books and the movie?

Catching the Wolf of Wall Street includes more of Belfort's outrageous stories that were not included in his first book.
As we investigated The Wolf of Wall Street true story, we discovered that Jordan's books, The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street, netted him a $1 million advance from Random House. He also earned $1 million for the film rights to his story ( In a response to criticism over these profits and future profits from the movie, Jordan Belfort said the following via his Facebook page, "I am not turning over 50% of the profits of the books and the movie, which was what the government had wanted me to do. Instead, I insisted on turning over 100% of the profits of both books and the movie, which is to say, I am not making a single dime on any of this." According to Jordan, the money is being used to pay back the millions still owed to those who were scammed by his brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont.

Does Jordan Belfort have a cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street movie?

Yes, the real Jordan Belfort appears at the end of the movie as the person who introduces Leonardo DiCaprio's character before he takes the stage at his Straight Line seminar.

Have any other movies been based on Jordan Belfort's story?

Yes, but only loosely. The brokerage firm in the movie Boiler Room, released in 2000, was inspired by the illegal practices of Jordan Belfort's Stratton Oakmont firm. In the movie, actor Ben Affleck portrays Jim Young, the Belfort-esque co-founder of the firm, who, like Jordan Belfort, trains his brokers in the "pump and dump" scheme.

The Wolf of Wall Street Interviews and Related Video

Watch The Wolf of Wall Street movie trailer. Also, view Jordan Belfort interviews and home video footage of him speaking at a Stratton Oakmont party in the 1990s.

 Jordan Belfort Speaks at the Stratton Oakmont Christmas Party (1994)

The real Jordan Belfort speaks at the 1994 Stratton Oakmont Christmas party. He tells the firm's employees that he is "proud" of what he has accomplished and that the employees should also be proud of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they have been given. At the end, he shares a moment with co-founder Danny Porush (Jonah Hill in the movie). The video was posted by Mary Detres, author of the book Master of the Straight Line, which provides an insider's account of what it was like to work at the notorious brokerage firm.

 Jordan Belfort Interview

Grant Lewers interviews Jordan Belfort on The Room Live in 2010 about his memoir The Wolf of Wall Street. Belfort talks about his life and what led him to start his firm. He offers his four keys to success that he teaches during his seminars and he recounts various stories, including his drug addiction, the story about his yacht sinking from the book, and trying to commit suicide.

 FBI Agent Gregory Coleman Interview (2007)

This CNBC interview is from 2007, around the time of the release of Jordan Belfort's first memoir The Wolf of Wall Street. Following a brief interview with Belfort, during which he describes himself as an "arch-criminal" who was in a way a "cult leader," FBI agent Gregory Coleman speaks about why he was so determined to catch Belfort.

 The Wolf of Wall Street Trailer 2

The second trailer for the Martin Scorsese movie The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the autobiography of the same name by Jordan Belfort. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill.

 The Wolf of Wall Street Trailer

Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of Jordan Belfort's memoir chronicling his life as a fast-living, corrupt stockbroker during the 1990s. Belfort's criminal ways caught up with him in 1998 when he was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering for which he spent 22 months in Federal Prison.

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