Miami Beach, Florida – Jordan Belfort was lounging by the pool on a sunny April morning, drinking Red Bull and sharing a warning story. It is not uncommon for him to be imprisoned on 10 charges of securities fraud and money laundering: this time he was the victim. Last fall, he explained to a group of businessmen gathered at his majestic home that a hacker had stolen $ 300,000 in digital tokens from his cryptocurrency wallet.
He received the bad news at a dinner on Friday, he said as he told a venture capitalist about the time he sank his yacht during a drug-filled madhouse in the mid-1990s. After hacking into Mr. Belfort’s account, the hacker transferred large quantities of Ohm, a popular cryptocurrency token, into a separate wallet – a publicly visible transaction – Mr. Belfort could do nothing to undo. “You see where the money is,” he said. “It’s the most frustrating thing.”
Mr. Belfort, 59, is best known for The Wolf of Wall Street, a memoir that tells the story of his lewd 90s career in high finance, which director Martin Scorsese adapted into a 2013 film starring Leonardo. di Caprio as a persistent party. protagonist. These days, the real Mr. Belfort is a sales consultant and coach who charges tens of thousands of dollars for private sessions.
This month, at his home in Miami Beach, he hosted nine blockchain enthusiasts and entrepreneurs for a weekend crypto seminar – a chance to hang out with Wolf and enjoy an “intimate financial experience” with friends from the crypto industry.
A number of celebrities have tried to profit from the cryptocurrency boom by appearing in widely ridiculed crypto ads or whipping irreplaceable tokens, unique digital collectibles known as NFT. Mr Belfort said he had refused to take part in the worst of the shillings. He turned down offers to launch a wolf-themed NFT line, he said, although “I could easily make $ 10 million.”
It has also recently been transformed, far from crypto skepticism. He recently made a video on YouTube about the dangers of bitcoin, which he called “damn madness” and “mass delusion.” Over the years, he said, he gradually changed his mind as he learned more about cryptocurrencies and prices skyrocketed.
Mr Belfort is now an investor in a handful of start-ups, including a new NFT platform and an animal-themed crypto project that he says is “trying to take the ecosystem for dogs and pets and put it in a blockchain.” ”
Whatever his crypto good faith, Mr. Belfort is undoubtedly qualified to discuss the topic of financial fraud, a major problem in the digital asset industry. In the 1990s, the company he founded, Stratton Oakmont, used a sophisticated inventory management scheme. On top of his fortune, he and his business partners consume huge amounts of cocaine and qualudes and regularly hire prostitutes. Mr Belfort was eventually sentenced to 22 months in prison.
Given this story, it may feel a little surreal to hear an older, narrower Mr. Belfort say he is “looking forward to regulation” in the crypto industry. “I’m not interested in separating people from their money,” he said. “It’s the opposite of the way I’m doing right now.”
However, the crypto workshop in his house was not free: guests paid one bitcoin for a place or the cash equivalent of approximately $ 40,000.
The seminar began at 9 a.m. Saturday. The guests – selected by a group of more than 600 candidates – walked around Mr Belfort’s backyard, eating custom omelets and trading tips on bitcoin and tokenomics. A crypto miner from Kazakhstan has sunbathed with an ambitious blockchain influencer who runs a roofing company in Idaho. A Florida businessman explained his plan to use NFTs in a startup that offers Tinder as music. Some of the guests said they paid for the seminar because they were sworn fans of Wolf; others simply wanted to contact fellow entrepreneurs.
At 9:15 in the morning the mimosas were running, but Mr. Belfort was nowhere to be seen. “The US dollar will appreciate,” said Doug Bartlett, the roof’s chief executive. A few minutes passed. There is no Wolf yet. “Is the wolf still asleep?” A guest wondered aloud.
Finally, Mr. Belfort left the house wearing faded jeans and dark sunglasses. Mr. Belfort has short dark hair; he is more wrinkled than in the 90s, but his face is still in a constant boyish smile. He stopped on the stairs down from the porch to look at the stage: nine men dressed in different shades of everyday business — polo, flip-flops, unbuttoned shirts. “I guess we still have to work on women’s acceptance of cryptocurrency,” he said. “We need to get a few girls here next year.” He paused. “Women.”
Someone handed Mr. Belfort a box of Red Bull. (It was about 9:30 in the morning) “I’m going to need sugar,” he said. After a few minutes of chat, he ushered the group into the dining room, where each place on the table was placed with a notebook and a copy of The Way of the Wolf, Mr. Belfort’s sales guide, published in 2017.
Mr. Belfort had spent the last two decades trying to restore his reputation, but the signs of the old Wolf were everywhere. Behind him at the head of the table, a fully stocked shelf of alcohol occupied most of the wall. (He hasn’t been up for 25 years, he said, but sometimes he drinks.) A poster hung on the shelf, resembling an entry in the periodic table – Qu for quaalude – listing various “drug facts”, including the best sex ever . “
After a series of introductions, Mr. Belfort began a lecture on the intricacies of cryptocurrencies, from the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum to the rise of decentralized autonomous organizations. He shared his wisdom on crypto-based systems for “smart contracts” (“some are really smart, some are stupid”) and told old stories about his collaboration with Leo and Marty.
“Leo has never used drugs,” he said. “She had to educate him on that.”
To gather crypto evangelicals, it was astonishing how much time everyone spent to experience their greatest losses. Almost half of the group said they had been hacked. One guest said he lost money when the cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox collapsed in 2014. Two others said they had burned large amounts of tokens in risky transactions.
The energy in the room increased with the arrival of Chase Hero, one of a series of guest speakers that Mr. Belfort attracted over the weekend. A crypto investor and gaming enthusiast, Mr Hero said the stablecoins – cryptocurrencies pegged to the US dollar – were “the biggest innovation since the bread cut”.
“It looks lively and insane and almost borders on Ponzi’s scheme,” said Mr. Hero of his favorite stable coin project. “Which makes it the perfect asset for cryptocurrency, because that’s what these kids love.”
One of Mr Belfort’s guests, Svein-Erik Nielsen, a Norwegian entrepreneur, began to describe his own business ambitions. Did Mr. Hero have any advice? The key to starting a new venture, he replied, is aggressive marketing. “Imagine going to a Brazilian beach and trying to find a single hot chick. There are eight million, “said Mr. Hero. “The idea here is the same. You have to do stupid, stupid marketing to get it there. “
A few hours later, the group stopped for dinner at Carbone, an Italian high-end restaurant in Miami Beach, where Mr. Belfort eats twice a week. While eating caviar and rigatoni, some of the guests shared stories of their own debauchery; It turned out that Mr. Belfort was not the only wolf in the room. Two guests discussed the mechanisms of harassment of younger women without risking getting involved in a “sugar baby” situation. Some speculate on how an enterprising strip club owner could incorporate NFT into the business.
Soon the conversation turned to a club in Japan, where it is said that women hunt octopuses. Mr. Belfort wanted to know more: were the women in Japan beautiful? He later showed the group a video for the iPhone, which he shot at a bar with S and M themes, where the waitresses beat the customers.
Artem Bespalov, CEO of cryptocurrency digging company Asic Jungle, leaned across the table to describe his personal turn to Wolf’s path. He said he was planning to go to medical school when he found a copy of The Wolf of Wall Street in the library.
“I said, ‘That’s what I want to do,'” Mr. Bespalov recalled. “I finally stole the book from the library.”
“So I had a good influence,” Mr Belfort said with a laugh. However, he said, he regretted his behavior in those days – it was wrong and he could have become even richer if he had not broken the law. “I missed the internet boom,” he said. “I would make 100 times more money.”
“Well,” replied Mr. Bespalov, “you are now in cryptocurrency.”
“Live and learn,” said Mr. Belfort.