“If you want to hang on to mistakes I made 25 years ago, that’s your prerogative,” Jordan Belfort — the rich asshole Leonardo DiCaprio played in The Wolf Of Wall Street — told a packed auditorium run by the 92nd Street Y and NYU’s School of Law on Wednesday night.
But he’s also really sorry. After ratting out his fellow financial miscreants so he can serve just 22 months in prison for swindling 1,500 “investors” out of $200 million, Belfort was ordered to pay $110.4 in restitution to his victims. Where is he getting this money? From you and you and you (and me). Half of Belfort’s income from his book, the movie, these “motivational” talks is going straight to those whom he cheated out of money, that he turned into thing and drugs, that made him such an interesting movie asshole. (Allegedly. He once stormed off Australian tv when pressed about the numbers.)
“I’ve redeemed myself,” Belfort told the audience last night. “I do the right thing every day.” So far, he’s turned over about $11 million. So he got to keep about $11 million. And he’s really a changed man, in his mind. See, originally, he really idolized Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. But seeing himself as the dynamic rich asshole in Leo was really therapeutic. “The biggest problem is [Gekko] didn’t take the fall in the movie. At least in the Wolf of Wall Street, I lose everything. I go to jail.” He’s all good now. He was bad before. But he knew he was bad. It was hard. “Not a day went by where there wasn’t a voice in the back of my head saying ‘what the hell am I doing?'” But it’s ok now. But before it was bad, and hard. “Money is like alcohol. It makes you more of what you are. If you’re an asshole, it makes you a bigger asshole.”
Attendees mostly wanted to talk about the film.