A cocky bad boy of finance recalls, in much detail and scabrous language, his nasty career as a master of his own universe.
At a young age, in an industry with many precocious bandits, Belfort ran a Long Island–based brokerage with the deceptively WASP-y name of Stratton Oakmont. It was a bucket shop habitually engaged in crooked underwritings. Its persuasive boss was a stock manipulator and tax dodger; he details the stock kiting, share parking, money laundering and customer swindles. Many millions poured in, and cash brought with it excess upon excess. Along with compliant women and copious drugs, there were multiple mansions, many servants, aircraft, yachts and, for all the guys on the trading floor, trophy wives. Among his under-the-table and beneath-the-sheets activities, the author’s most imperative seemed to be sex and dope-taking, despite his professed abiding love for his (now ex) wife and kids. Belfort’s portrait of his family is vivid, as is his depiction of the merry cast of supporting players: sweet Aunt Patricia, a Swiss forger, evil garmentos, Mad Max (Stratton’s CFO and his father). The melodrama covers coke snorting, Quaalude eating, kinky sex, violence, car wrecks, even a sick child and a storm at sea. “A cautionary tale,” the author calls it. It is crass, certainly, and vulgar—and a hell of a read. Belfort displays dirty writing skills many basis points above his tricky ilk. His chronicle ends with his arrest for fraud. Now, with 22 months in the slammer behind him, he’s working on his next book.
Entertaining as pulp fiction, real as a federal indictment.