Jordan Belfort, Still the Wolf, Likes Crypto Now

MIAMI BEACH, Florida – Jordan Belfort was lounging by the pool one sunny April morning, sipping Red Bull and sharing a warning story. It is not uncommon for him to be imprisoned for 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering: this time, he was a victim. Last fall, he explained to a group of businessmen gathered in his lavish house, a hacker stole $ 300,000 of digital tokens from his cryptocurrency wallet.

He got bad news at a dinner on Friday, he said, while telling a venture capitalist about the time he sank his yacht during a drug-induced insanity in the mid-1990s. After breaking into Mr. Belfort’s account, the hacker transferred large amounts of Ohm, a popular cryptocurrency token, into a special wallet – a publicly visible transaction that Mr. Belfort could do nothing to undo. “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 memoir about his debauched 1990s career in high finance, which director Martin Scorsese adapted into a 2013 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a stubborn man. protagonist. These days, Mr. Belfort is a consultant and sales coach, charging tens of thousands of dollars for private meetings.

This month, at his home in Miami Beach, he hosted nine blockchain enthusiasts and entrepreneurs at a cryptocurrency weekend workshop – an opportunity to hang out with Wolf and enjoy an “intimate financial experience” with his friends from the crypto industry.

A number of celebrities have tried to profit from the cryptocurrency boom, appearing in widely ridiculed cryptocurrency advertisements or whipping irreplaceable tokens, unique digital collectibles known as NFT. Mr Belfort said he refused to take part in the worst of the shillings. He rejected offers to launch a line of NFTs on the topic of Vuk, he said, although “I could easily earn 10 million dollars”.

It has also recently turned into crypto skepticism. Not so long ago, he made a video on YouTube about the dangers of bitcoin, which he called “damn madness” and “mass delusion”. Over the years, he said, he gradually changed his mind, learned more about cryptocurrencies, and prices skyrocketed.

Now, Mr. Belfort is an investor in several start-ups, including a new NFT platform and a crypto project on animals, which he said was “trying to take over the dog and pet ecosystem and put it on the blockchain.” ”

Regardless of his crypto faith, Mr. Belfort is undoubtedly qualified to discuss the topic of financial fraud, a major problem in the digital property industry. In the 1990s, the firm he founded, Stratton Oakmont, used a sophisticated stock-manipulation scheme. At the height of his wealth, he and his business partners consumed huge amounts of cocaine and quality and regularly employed prostitutes. Mr. Belfort eventually served 22 months in prison.

Given that history, it may seem a bit surreal to hear the older, grumpy Mr. Belfort say he is “very happy with the 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 behaving right now.”

However, the crypto workshop in his house was not free: guests paid one bitcoin for the place, or the equivalent in cash, which is approximately $ 40,000.

The workshop began Saturday at 9 p.m. Guests – selected from a group of more than 600 candidates – roamed Mr. Belfort’s yard, ate custom-made omelets and traded tips on bitcoin mining and tokenomia. A crypto miner from Kazakhstan relaxed in the sun with an ambitious blockchain influencer who runs a roofing company in Idaho. The Florida businessman explained his plan to use NFT in a startup that represents Tinder for music. Some of the guests said they paid for the workshop because they were ardent fans of Vuk; others simply wanted to connect with fellow entrepreneurs.

By 9:15 a.m., the mimosas were running, but Mr. Belfort was nowhere to be seen. “The US dollar is going to collapse,” said Roofing CEO Doug Bartlett. A few minutes passed. There is still no Wolf. “The wolf is still asleep?” one guest wondered aloud.

Finally, Mr. Belfort came out of the house, dressed in faded jeans and dark sunglasses. Mr. Belfort has short dark hair; he is wrinkled more than in the 90s, but his face is still in an eternal boyish smile. He stopped on the steps below the porch to observe the scene: nine men dressed in various shades of business casual – polo shirts, flip flops, unbuttoned shirts. “I guess we still need to work on women’s adoption of cryptocurrency,” he said. “We need to bring some girls here next year.” He paused. “Women.”

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

Mr. Belfort has spent the past two decades trying to restore his reputation, but the signs of the old Wolf were everywhere. Behind his place at the head of the table, a fully stocked drink shelf occupied most of the wall. . ever. ”

After a round of introductions, Mr. 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 crypto-based “smart contract” systems (“some of them are really smart, some of them are stupid”) and told old stories about his collaboration with Leo and Marty.

“Leo has never taken drugs,” he said. “I had to educate him about it.”

For a gathering of crypto evangelists, it was astonishing how much time they all spent experiencing their greatest losses. Almost half of the group said they were hacked. One guest said he lost money when the cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox failed in 2014. The other two said they burned large amounts of tokens in risky stores.

The energy in the room increased with the arrival of Chase Hero, one of a number of guest speakers who Mr. Belfort hired for the weekend. An investor in cryptocurrencies and gaming enthusiasts, Mr. Hero said that stable money – cryptocurrencies whose value is tied to the US dollar – is “the greatest innovation of sliced ​​bread”.

“It seems lively and crazy and almost on the border of the Ponzi scheme,” said Mr. Hero about his favorite stabilcoin project. “Which makes it the perfect asset for cryptocurrencies because that’s what these kids love.”

One of Mr. Belfort’s guests, Svein-Erik Nielsen, a Norwegian entrepreneur, began to describe his business ambitions. Did Mr. Hero have any advice? The key to starting a new venture, he replied, is aggressive marketing. “Imagine going to a Brazilian beach and trying to find one nice fish. There are eight million of them, ”said Mr. Hero. “The idea is the same here. You have to do stupid, stupid marketing to get it out. ”

A few hours later, the group interrupted dinner at Carbone, a top Italian restaurant in Miami Beach where Mr. Belfort even eats twice a week. While eating caviar and rigatoni, some of the guests talked about their own debauchery; It turned out that Mr. Belfort was not the only wolf in the room. The two guests discussed the mechanism of persecution of younger women without the risk of getting involved in the “sugar baby” situation. Some have speculated about how the enterprising owner of a strip club could involve NFT in the business.

The conversation soon turned to a club in Japan where women are said to be chatting with octopuses. Mr. Belfort wanted to know more: Were women in Japan beautiful? He later showed the group an iPhone video he shot at a bar with an S and M theme, where waitresses whip customers.

Artem Bespaloff, CEO of cryptocurrency mining company Asic Jungle, leaned across the table to describe his personal journey to the path of the Wolf. He planned 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,'” he recalled. Bespaloff. “I ended up stealing a book from the library.”

“So I had a good influence,” Mr. Belfort said with a laugh. Still, he said, he regretted his behavior at the time – 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 make 100 times more money.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Bespaloff, “You’re in cryptocurrency now.”

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

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