Jordan Belfort, always the wolf, loves crypto now

To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android . MIAMI BEACH — Jordan Belfor...


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MIAMI BEACH — Jordan Belfort was lounging by the pool on a sunny April morning, sipping Red Bull and sharing a cautionary tale. Not the usual about her imprisonment on 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering: this time he had been the victim. Last fall, he told a group of businessmen gathered at his lavish home, a hacker stole $300,000 worth of digital tokens from his cryptocurrency wallet.

He had learned the bad news over dinner on a Friday, he said, as he told a venture capitalist friend of the time he had sunk his yacht during a drug-fueled adventure in the mid-1990s. After breaking into Mr. Belfort’s account, the hacker transferred large amounts of Ohm, a popular cryptocurrency token, to a separate wallet — a publicly visible transaction that Mr. Belfort could do nothing to reverse. “You can 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 revealing memoir of his debauched career in 1990s high finance, which director Martin Scorsese adapted into a 2013 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the hard party. protagonist. These days, the real 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-long crypto workshop — a chance to hang out with the wolf and enjoy a “intimate financial experience” with his friends in the crypto industry.

A long line of celebrities have tried to cash in on the cryptocurrency boom, appearing in widely mocked crypto ads or flogging non-fungible tokens, the unique digital collectibles known as NFTs. Mr Belfort says he refused to participate in the worst of the shilling. He declined offers to launch a range of Wolf-themed NFTs, he said, even though “I could easily make $10 million.”

He is also a recent convert away from crypto-skepticism. Not long ago he shot a Youtube video about the dangers of bitcoin, which he called “fuckin’ madness” and “mass delirium”. Over the years, he said, he gradually changed his mind as he learned more about cryptocurrencies and prices skyrocketed.

Today, Mr. Belfort is an investor in a handful of start-ups, including one new NFT platform And one animal themed The crypto project which he says is “trying to take the ecosystem of dogs and pets and put it on the blockchain.”

Regardless of his good faith in crypto, Mr. Belfort is unquestionably qualified to tackle the subject of financial fraud, a major issue in the digital asset industry. In the 1990s, the company he founded, Stratton Oakmont, operated a sophisticated inventory handling system. At the height of their wealth, he and his business partners used huge amounts of cocaine and quaaludes and regularly employed prostitutes. Mr. Belfort eventually served 22 months in prison.

Given this history, it might seem slightly surreal to hear an older, grizzled Mr. Belfort proclaim that 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 how I’m acting right now.”

Still, the crypto workshop at his house wasn’t free: Guests paid a bitcoin for a seat, or the cash equivalent, or around $40,000.

The workshop started on Saturday at 9 a.m. The guests – chosen from a pool of more than 600 applicants – moved through Mr. Belfort’s backyard, eating made-to-order omelettes and swapping advice on Bitcoin mining and tokenomics. Crypto miner from Kazakhstan chilled in the sun with a wannabe blockchain influencer who runs a roofing business in Idaho. A Florida businessman has explained his plans to use NFTs in a startup he touts as Tinder for Music. Some of the guests said they paid for the workshop because they were die-hard Wolf fans; others simply wanted to network with other entrepreneurs.

At 9:15 a.m., the mimosas were flowing, but Mr. Belfort was nowhere to be found. “The US dollar is going to shit,” roofing manager Doug Bartlett said. A few minutes passed. Still no wolf. “The wolf is still sleeping? a guest wondered aloud.

Finally, Mr. Belfort emerged from the house, dressed in faded jeans and dark sunglasses. M. Belfort has short black hair; he’s more wrinkled than he was in the 90s, but his face still displays a perpetually childish smile. He stopped on the stairs leading down from the porch to survey the scene: nine men dressed in various shades of casual clothing – polo shirts, flip-flops, untucked button-up shirts. “I guess we still need to work on female adoption of cryptocurrency,” he said. “We need to bring girls here next year.” He stopped himself. “Women.”

Someone handed Mr. Belfort a can of Red Bull. (It was about 9:30 a.m.) “I’m going to need some sugar,” he said. After a few minutes of chatting, he ushered the group into the dining room, where each seat at the table was set up with a notebook and a copy of “Way of the Wolf,” a sales manual that Mr. Belfort published in 2017.

Mr. Belfort has spent the past two decades trying to rebuild his reputation, but the signs of the old wolf were everywhere. Behind his place at the head of the table, a fully stocked liquor rack took up most of the wall. (He hasn’t been stoned in 25 years, he said, but he drinks occasionally.) Next to the shelf hung a poster designed to look like an entry in the periodic table — Qu for quaalude — listing various “drug facts”, including “the best sex ever.”

After a series of presentations, Belfort began a lecture on the details of cryptocurrencies, from the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum to the rise of decentralized autonomous organizations. He shared his wisdom on cryptography smart contract systems (“some of ’em really smart; some of ’em dumb”) and told old stories about working with Leo and Marty.

“Leo had never taken drugs,” he said. “I had to educate him on that.”

For a gathering of crypto evangelists, it was striking how much time each spent reliving their biggest losses. Almost half of the group said they had been hacked. One guest said he lost money when cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox collapsed in 2014. Two others said they burned large amounts of tokens in risky trades.

The energy in the room increased with the arrival of Chase Hero, one of the guest speakers Mr. Belfort had recruited for the weekend. A crypto investor and gaming enthusiast, Mr Hero said stablecoins – cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to the US dollar – are “the greatest innovation since sliced ​​bread”.

“It sounds sharp and crazy and almost bordering on a Ponzi scheme,” Hero said of his favorite stablecoin project. “Making it the perfect cryptocurrency asset because that’s what these kids love.”

One of Mr. Belfort’s guests, Svein-Erik Nilsen, a Norwegian entrepreneur, began to describe his own business ambitions. Did Mr. Hero have any advice? The key to starting a new business, he replied, is aggressive marketing to stand out from the crowd. “Imagine going to a Brazilian beach and trying to find just one hot girl. There are eight million,” Mr. Hero said. “The idea is the same here. .

A few hours later, the group adjourned for dinner at Carbone, an upscale Italian restaurant in Miami Beach where Mr. Belfort eats up to twice a week. As they dined on caviar and rigatoni, some of the guests shared stories of their own debauchery; Mr. Belfort, it turned out, wasn’t the only wolf in the room. Two guests discussed mechanisms for pursuing younger women without risking becoming entangled in a “sugar baby” situation. Someone speculated on how an enterprising strip club owner might incorporate NFTs into the business.

Soon the conversation turned to a club in Japan where women are said to frolic with octopuses. Mr. Belfort wanted to know more: Were the women in Japan beautiful? Later, he showed the group an iPhone video he took at an S-and-M themed bar, where waitresses whip customers.

Artem Bespaloff, the managing director of the crypto-mining company asian jungle, leaned over the table to describe his personal conversion to the Way of the Wolf. He was planning to go to medical school, he said, 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. Bespaloff. “I ended up stealing the book from the library.”

“So I was a good influence,” Mr. Belfort said with a laugh. Still, he says, he regrets his behavior back then – it was wrong, and he could have gotten even richer had he not broken the law. “I missed the internet boom,” he said. “I would have made 100 times more money.”

“Well,” Mr. Bespaloff replied, “you’re into crypto now.”

“You live and learn,” Mr. Belfort said.

Sound produced by Adrian Hurst.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jordan Belfort, always the wolf, loves crypto now
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