Jordan Belfort, lionized by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 blockbuster film, on Harvey Weinstein and why he hates taxes
Surprise! The Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t like the #MeToo movement.
Jordan Belfort spent nearly two years in prison for cheating investors out of over $200 million, a saga chronicled in the aforementioned book and movie, in which he was played by Leo DiCaprio. Thanks to the blockbuster film, which also featured Margot Robbie as his wife, the convicted fraudster is better known today for the hookers-and-blow lifestyle he enjoyed in the early 90s.
But the 55-year-old Queens native will have you know that while he’s had intimate relations with sex workers, he’s never done anything untoward to women without their consent. “I never went into the whole sexual harassment, it was not my thing really,” Belfort tells Moneyish. “I thought it was bad business.”
Still, he thinks the backlash in the past half-year that was sparked by revelations around disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is overblown. “I don’t like the #MeToo movement at all, I’m against it. It’s terrible what’s happening, people’s careers are being wrecked before [they] get tried” by a court, he says. “It’s not the America where I grew up. Innocent before proven guilty…It goes both ways, for men to harass women, and women men.”
“Harvey should be hung up and f—king shot,” he says. “But what about normal interplay everyday between men and women? I think it’s healthy. It’s how people get married. I don’t understand, how do companies function right now? How do men and women interact anymore? I’m glad I’m married and over that part of my life.”
It’s not gone unnoticed that the financial industry—barring exceptions at institutions like Fidelity—has largely escaped the scrutiny of the anti-sexual harassment movement. Belfort thinks it’s because the big banks and trading houses have cleaned up their act. Due to new “laws, there was a big shift in the major brokerage firms. It was much reduced from what it was,” he says, adding that younger women in the workforce have also gotten better at speaking out.
“No one is going to harass my daughter. She’ll stand up for herself,” says Belfort of his 24-year-old child. “She’s a very smart girl. A strong, independent woman. Educated, smart. I’m confident you put her in [a bad situation], no one will harass her.”
These days, Belfort has reinvented himself as a sales trainer—he reportedly charges up to $100,000 a day—and cryptocurrency critic. (In 2014, federal prosecutors criticized him for allegedly shirking court-ordered restitution to his victims.) He organized a “master class” with conference organizer Synergy Global Forum in New York last month, in which he taught participants a “Straight Line Persuasion Method” he developed.
That sales models involves plenty of buzz words and elements like “tonality.” “There are ten core tonalities that basically drive influence. Every human being has used tonality at one point or another, but the problem is that when you sell something, you don’t use the right part,” says Belfort, who made his first sale— $700 worth of meat and seafood—in spring 1985. “Using the right tone at the right time is incredibly empowering…almost anybody who really applies what they’ve learned will see an increase in sales.”
So what does he make of Donald Trump, who likes to pitch himself as a master salesman? “More than sales, he’s a marketer. He has a good slogan and catchphrases. Simple contexts that he repeats again and again,” says Belfort, who supports some Trump policies while disdaining the President’s tendency to put his foot in his mouth.
That however, doesn’t include the big Trump tax cut. “I particularly don’t like the inability to deduct state and federal taxes” beyond $10,000, says Belfort, who now lives in California. “I don’t like it personally. I’m a believer in less taxes. A lot of it is my disdain for government and the bureaucracy. In a perfect world, they would spend it wisely. But they f—king waste it all. Take as little from me.”
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