MIAMI BEACH, FL – Jordan Belfort was lounging poolside on a sunny April morning, sipping a Red Bull and sharing a cautionary tale. It’s not the usual thing about his imprisonment on 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering: This time, he was the victim. Last fall, he explained to a group of businessmen gathered at his luxury home, that a hacker stole $300,000 in digital tokens from his cryptocurrency wallet.
He said he got the bad news at dinner Friday, while telling a venture capitalist friend the time his yacht sank during a drug-fueled tour in the mid-1990s. After breaking into Mr. Balfour’s account, the hacker moved large amounts of Ohm, a cryptocurrency token, to a separate wallet – a publicly visible transaction that Mr. Balfour could do nothing to reverse. “You can see where the money is,” he said. “It’s the most frustrating thing.”
Belfort, 59, is best known for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the all-telling memoir of his decadent ’90s career in high finance, which director Martin Scorsese turned into a 2013 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the hardcore. the hero of the story. These days, Mr. Belfort is a consultant and sales coach, charging tens of thousands of dollars for private sessions.
This month, at his Miami Beach home, he hosted nine blockchain enthusiasts and entrepreneurs for a weekend crypto workshop — a chance to hang out with the wolf and enjoy an “intimate financial experience” with his crypto friends.
A large number of celebrities have attempted to capitalize on the cryptocurrency boom, appearing in widely mocked crypto commercials or whipping out indestructible tokens, the unique digital holdings known as NFTs. Mr. Balfour said he refused to participate in the worst shilling. He said he turned down offers to launch a set of Wolf-themed NFTs, even though he “could easily make $10 million.”
He’s also recently shifted away from crypto-skepticism. Not long ago, he made a YouTube video about the dangers of Bitcoin, which he called “collective insanity” and “collective delusion.” He said that over the years he gradually changed his mind, as he learned more about cryptocurrencies and prices rose dramatically.
Now, Mr. Balfour is an investor in a handful of startups, including the new NFT platform and an animal-themed crypto project that he said is “trying to take the ecosystem of dogs and pets and put it on the blockchain.”
Whatever his crypto intentions, Mr. Balfour 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, ran a sophisticated stock-manipulation scheme. At the height of their fortune, he and his business associates consumed massive amounts of cocaine and quaaludes and regularly worked as prostitutes. In the end, Mr. Belfort spent 22 months in prison.
Given this history, it can be a bit surreal when we hear the older and saddest Mr. Balfour declaring that he is “very much looking forward to regulation” in the cryptocurrency industry. “I am not interested in separating people from their money,” he said. “It’s the opposite of what I’m doing right now.”
However, the crypto workshop in his home was not free: guests paid one bitcoin for a seat, or the equivalent in cash, which is close to $40 thousand.
The workshop started at 9 am on Saturday morning. Guests – selected from more than 600 applicants – wander around Mr. Balfour’s backyard, eating a made-to-order omelette and trading tips on mining bitcoin and tokens. A cryptocurrency miner from Kazakhstan relaxes in the sun with an aspiring blockchain influencer who runs a roofing company in Idaho. A Florida businessman explained his plan to use NFTs in a startup he’s promoting as Tinder for music. Some guests said they paid for the workshop because they are a huge fan of the wolf; Others simply wanted to connect with fellow entrepreneurs.
By 9:15 AM the mimosas were galloping in, but Mr. Belfort was nowhere to be seen. “The US dollar is going to be bullshit,” said Bishop’s CEO, Doug Bartlett. A few minutes passed. There is still no wolf. “The wolf is still sleeping?” One of the guests asked aloud.
At last, Mr. Belfort came out of the house in faded jeans and dark sunglasses. Mr. Balfour has short dark hair. He’s more wrinkled than he was in the ’90s, but his face still has an always boyish smile. He stopped on the stairs down from the balcony to check out the scene: nine men in various shades of business casual – polo shirts, slippers, unbuttoned shirts. “I think we still need to work on female crypto adoption,” he said. “We got some girls here next year.” It’s off. “a woman.”
Someone handed Mr. Belfort a can of Red Bull. (It was about 9:30 a.m.) “I’m going to need sugar,” he said. After a few minutes of chatting, bring the group into the dining room, where each place at the table is equipped with a notebook and a copy of the “Wolf’s Way” sales guide published by Mr. Belfort in 2017.
Mr. Balfour has spent the past two decades trying to rebuild his reputation, but signs of the old wolf were everywhere. Behind its place at the head of the table, a fully filled liquor rack occupied most of the wall. (He said he hasn’t gone up in 25 years, but he drinks occasionally.) Next to the shelf, a poster designed to resemble an entry in the periodic table — Qu for quaalude — lists various “drug facts,” including “the best sex ever.”
After a round of introductions, Mr. Balfour began a lecture on the subtleties of cryptocurrencies, from the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum to the emergence of decentralized autonomous organizations. He shared his wisdom on crypto-based “smart contract” systems (“some are really smart; some are stupid”) and told old stories about his collaborations with Leo and Marty.
“Leo has never taken drugs,” he said. “I had to tell him about it.”
For a group of crypto evangelists, it was astounding how much time everyone spent making up for their biggest loss. Nearly half of the group said they had been hacked. One guest said he lost money when the crypto exchange Mt.
The energy in the room rose with the arrival of Chase Hero, one of the guest speaker series that Mr. Belfort had recruited for the weekend. Cryptocurrency investor and gaming enthusiast Mr. Hero declared that stablecoins – cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to the US dollar – are “the biggest innovation since slices of bread.”
“It looks like a crazy, crazy Ponzi scheme, almost a frontier scheme,” Mr. Hero said of his favorite stablecoin project. “That makes it the perfect asset for cryptocurrency because that’s what these kids love.”
One of Mr. Belfort’s guests, Norwegian businessman Sven Erik Nielsen, began describing his own business ambitions. Does Mr. Hiro have any advice? He replied that the key to starting a new venture was strong marketing. “Imagine going to a Brazilian beach and trying to find one hot chick. There are eight million,” said Mr. Hero. “The idea is the same here. You have to do stupid, stupid marketing to spread it.”
A few hours later, the group was put off for dinner at Carbone, the upscale Italian restaurant in Miami Beach where Mr. Belfort eats twice a week. While dining on caviar and rigatoni, some of the guests shared stories of their debauchery. It turns out that Mr. Balfour wasn’t the only wolf in the room. Two guests discussed the mechanics of stalking young women without risking getting involved in a “sugar baby” situation. Someone speculated about how an enterprising strip club owner might incorporate NFTs into the business.
The conversation soon turned to a club in Japan where women are said to own octopus. Mr. Balfour wanted to know more: Were women in Japan beautiful? Later, the group was shown a video clip on iPhone that he had taken at a bar under the title S and M, in which waitresses whip customers.
Artem Bespaloff, CEO of crypto miner Asic Jungle, leaned over the table to describe his personal transformation to the Wolf Road. 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, ‘This is what I want to do,'” recalls Mr. Bespalov. “I ended up stealing the book from the library.”
“So I’ve had a good effect,” said Mr. Balfour, laughing. Nevertheless, he said, he regretted his behavior in those days – it was a mistake, and he could have become much richer if he had not broken the law. “I missed the internet boom,” he said. “I would have made 100 times more money.”
Mr. Bespalov replied, “Well, you’re in crypto now.”
“You live and you learn,” said Mr. Balfour.