Regardless of how you feel about the misguided debate over whether Wolf of Wall Street “glorifies” its subject, Jordan Belfort, you can’t feel good about participating in lining his pockets. Early on, the word from Belfort was that he “wasn’t making a single dime” on the movie, and if you can’t trust an infamous con artist who wrote a book bragging about his crimes, who can you?
From Belfort’s Facebook a few weeks ago:
For the record, 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. This should amount to countless millions of dollars and hopefully be more than enough to pay back anyone who is still out there.
In shocking news you’ll never believe, it turns out that might not be true.
From The Hollywood Reporter (emphasis mine):
Justice Department officials are targeting money paid to Jordan Belfort in connection to The Wolf of Wall Street.
Belfort served 22 months in prison for securities violations. As part of his 2003 sentencing, he was ordered to pay $110.4 million to victims. In October, federal prosecutors revealed that Belfort had only paid $11.6 million.
There’s now a dispute over continued payments. The U.S. government contends that Belfort needs to continue to pay restitution at the rate of 50 percent of his gross income. But according to prosecutors, Belfort argues that he is no longer obligated to comply with a payment plan because his supervised release has terminated. […]
According to the government’s documents, Red Granite Productions purchased film rights to The Wolf of Wall Street for $1.045 million. Of that amount, Belfort received $940,500. In addition, Belfort got $125,000 when Scorsese began shooting the film and another $125,000 when the film hit theaters last month. Yet in 2011, when Belfort got nearly a million dollars for selling rights, he made just $21,000 toward restitution.
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, responded to the paper. According to Nardoza, “Belfort’s making these claims, and they’re not factual. He’s in Australia and using that loophole to avoid paying.”
Oh sure, hiding in the mucousy pouch of Australia’s marsupial government, oldest trick in the book.
Meanwhile, Belfort is still doing motivational speaking (like the gig speaking to the Melbourne Storm in the banner image) and trying to shop a reality show. I won’t bring up my nuanced reservations about the film or Leonardo DiCaprio’s slimy endorsement video again, instead, I’ll simply point out what the last shot of the film was trying to communicate. Which is that if you give Jordan Belfort money for any reason, you are the world’s biggest sucker.