Jordan Belfort is a former stockbroker and motivational speaker with a net worth of -$100 million. The Brooklyn native’s crazy life story was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ in 2013. Once worth millions, Belfort has experienced a massive fall from grace.
Belfort was an entrepreneur at an early age. He began selling ice-cream in-between high school and college at a local beach with his childhood friend Elliot Loewenstern and made a cool $20,000.
After graduating from American University with a degree in biology he ended up in the industry of door-to-door meat and seafood sales. Although Belfort experienced initial success, he inevitably filed for bankruptcy when he turned 25. This was his turning point as a family friend helped him gain a position as a trainee stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild and the man we all know was born.
Unfortunately, his time at L.F. Rothschild didn’t last long. Belfort’s first day as a licensed broker was known as ‘Black Monday’ which triggered the 1987 stock market crash. L.F. Rothschild went bust and Belfort was soon out of a job.
He used his Series 7 license to secure a job with The Investors Center, a small investment firm that specialised in promoting penny stocks. Jordan spent hours cold calling and pitching crappy penny stocks to mom-and-pop type investors. Here he perfected the art of selling over the phone and crafting the perfect script. Receiving a 50% commission on all sales, it wasn’t long until Jordan was making big money. Not happy making a few thousand per month, Jordan quit his job to start up with own brokerage.
Jordan Belfort co-founded Stratton Oakmont with his partner in crime, Danny Porush (portrayed by Jonah Hill in the movie). Stratton Oakmont was a brokerage firm that promoted worthless penny stocks to uneducated investors.
For those less financially savvy, penny stocks are shares that trade under $5 per share and are very risky investments. 90% of penny stocks are worthless and only exist so shareholders can sell their shares at inflated prices. They are a hunting ground for scammers looking to make money. Those new to stock trading get suckered in with the lure of making huge returns.
Belfort and his employees used aggressive sales tactics to increase share prices and later dumped the same stocks for substantial profits. Clients were left holding the bag and suffered massive losses. The scheme was so successful that Belfort had a net worth of $200 million at his peak before the brokerage collapsed. Due to pressure from the SEC, Oakmont was forced to close down in 1996.
While the brokerage operated it was thriving and employed approximately 1300 people. During this time Jordan was living the high life, spending millions on fast cars, drugs, mansions and even a yacht. He bought the yacht from Coco Chanel but later sank it off the coast of Italy.
Jordan Belfort’s Net Worth Explained
You may be wondering how someone can end up with a negative net worth of $100 million! This is due to the fact he was convicted by the SEC of securities fraud and money laundering in 1999. As well as receiving a 4-year jail sentence (22 months served), Belfort was also ordered to pay back a sum of $110.4 million to the victims he defrauded. With approximately $13 million paid back to date, Belfort still has a long way to go in terms of his reparations.
Over the last few years Belfort has made little effort to repay investors. He continues to live the high-life, renting a beautiful property by the sea in California and another five bedroom mansion on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The 58 year old only pays back $4,000 to $5,000 per month, at this rate it will take 1,600 years to clear the debt.
What is Jordan Belfort up to Today?
Since his release from prison in 2006, Belfort has gone on to publish three books: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2007), ‘Catching the Wolf of Wall Street’ (2009), and a self-help book ‘The Way of the Wolf’ (2017). Receiving an advance of $500,000 for his first book just a few days after his release, it seemed like he had a knack for making money.
This initial book went on to see the popular film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio and featured the same title. Despite this film making $392 million at the box office, Belfort sold the rights for a mere $1 million. Out of this $1 million, only $21,000 went towards his restitution payments leaving his victims a little bewildered. I wouldn’t be surprised if the con artist has millions stashed away in off-shore bank accounts. A lot of wealthy businessmen have their fortunes located offshore so the authorities can’t easily track their money.
Belfort has continuously stated his full intent to pay back his former investors and has been earning a substantial income through motivational speaking. Touring the world teaching entrepreneurs his ‘Straight Line Persuasion’ system, showing how to improve your sales by implementing various persuasions tactics. The ‘Straight Line Persuasion’ course, retails online for $399. Belfort boasts he’ll earn more money in recent years than he ever did at the height of his stockbroking career.
With Belfort earning anywhere between $30,000-$80,000 per talk it’s easy to see how he could amass another fortune so quickly. He’s also stated that he fully intends on using 100% of his U.S. tour to fund his restitution package.
Not surprisingly, Mr Belfort is a ladies man and has been divorced twice. His first marriage to Denise Lombardo lasted six years and ended in 1991. Jordan met his second wife Nadine Caridi at a party at his mansion. The pair married in 1991 and had two children together before splitting in 2008. Currently, the former stockbroker is engaged to Anne Koppe since 2012 but they have not married yet. Hopefully, third time’s the charm!