Adapted from the memoir of Jordan Belfort, of the same name, The Wolf of Wall Street follows Belfort during his career as a stockbroker in New York and how his firm led to eventual downfall of his career.
After losing his first job on Wall Street, Belfort joins a firm that specializes in penny trades where he makes a small fortune quickly thanks to his pitching style and high commissions. After befriending Donnie Azoff, who promptly quits his job when Belfort offers him a large sum of money, and they recruit some of Belfort’s friends to train them in the hard sell.
He names the firm Stratton Oakmont in an attempt to con the %1 of rich Americans out of their money, and develop a pump and dump scam. Belfort quickly makes a sizable fortune, and the company expands and attracts positive and negative attention from all over.
Belfort and his workers begin to slide into the decadent lifestyle of sex and drugs, and they attempt to stop the sex in the office even though it clearly doesn’t work. At one of his pow wows, while discussing their IPOs and what to do with them, Donnie comes up with the idea to take Steve Madden, Ltd public. They quickly make $22 million.
After divorcing his wife after he began an affair with a woman he met at a party, he marries Naomi Lapagali in an extravagant ceremony and reception where he meets Naomi’s Aunt Emma who he reaches out to later on.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI begin to investigate Stratton Oakmont, and they subpena footage from his wedding. Belfort reaches out to the FBI agent investigating him, Patrick Denham, and attempts to figure out what the FBI has on him. Later on, Belfort’s Private Investigator lets him know the FBI has his phones tapped at his house and his office.
After his meeting with Denahm, Belfort decides it’s time to hide his money and heads to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with a corrupt banker, Jean-Jacques Saurel. He reaches out to Naomi’s Aunt, Emma, and convinces her to let him create a Swiss Bank account in her name. He also uses friends with European passports to smuggle his money into Switzerland.
In an attempt to keep him safe, Belfort’s Dad begs him to make a deal with the SEC, get clean and step down from Stratton Oakmont and to leave Azoff in charge. But, he just cannot quit Stratton.
During a trip to Italy with Naomi, Azoff and his wife, they find out that Aunt Emma has died and Belfort needs to get to Switzerland to get his money from the account. After his yacht is capsized, and the plane meant to get them crashes, Belfort takes it as a sign.
Two years after he sobered up, and was living a clean life, Belfort gets arrested because Saurel ratted on him when he was arrested for charges unrelated to Belfort. In an attempt to lessen the charges against him, Belfort agrees to rat on his friends. Agent Denham figures out that he warned Azoff about a wire they made him wear, which lands Belfort right in jail because he breached his cooperation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont.
Bulfort only receives 34 months in prison, and spends his time in a minimal security prison in Nevada. Once out of prison, Bulfort hosts seminars where he teaches people sale techniques.
Ultimately, I cannot believe that all of the events in this movie happened to one man. It’s a little astonishing, and kinda sucks.