The Wolf of Wall Street (Movie Tie-in Edition)

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9780804190374: The Wolf of Wall Street (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Now a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

By day he made thousands of dollars a minute. By night he spent it as fast as he could. From the binge that sank a 170-foot motor yacht and ran up a $700,000 hotel tab, to the wife and kids waiting at home and the fast-talking, hard-partying young stockbrokers who called him king, here, in Jordan Belfort’s own words, is the story of the ill-fated genius they called the Wolf of Wall Street. In the 1990s, Belfort became one of the most infamous kingpins in American finance: a brilliant, conniving stock-chopper who led his merry mob on a wild ride out of Wall Street and into a massive office on Long Island. It’s an extraordinary story of greed, power, and excess that no one could invent: the tale of an ordinary guy who went from hustling Italian ices to making hundreds of millions—until it all came crashing down.
 
Praise for The Wolf of Wall Street

“Raw and frequently hilarious.”The New York Times
 
“A rollicking tale of [Jordan Belfort’s] rise to riches as head of the infamous boiler room Stratton Oakmont . . . proof that there are indeed second acts in American lives.”Forbes
 
“A cross between Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and Scorsese’s GoodFellas . . . Belfort has the Midas touch.”The Sunday Times (London)
 
“Entertaining as pulp fiction, real as a federal indictment . . . a hell of a read.”Kirkus Reviews
From the Trade Paperback edition.

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About the Author:

After graduating from American University, Jordan Belfort worked on Wall Street for ten years. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue
A Babe in the Woods


May 1, 1987

You’re lower than pond scum,” said my new boss, leading me through the boardroom of LF Rothschild for the first time.

“You got a problem with that, Jordan?”

“No,” I replied, “no problem.”

“Good,” snapped my boss, and he kept right on walking.

We were walking through a maze of brown mahogany desks and black telephone wire on the twenty-third floor of a glass-andaluminum tower that rose up forty-one stories above Manhattan’s fabled Fifth Avenue. The boardroom was a vast space, perhaps fifty by seventy feet. It was an oppressive space, loaded with desks, telephones, computer monitors, and some very obnoxious yuppies, seventy of them in all. They had their suit jackets off, and at this hour of morning–9:20 a.m.–they were leaning back in their seats, reading their Wall Street Journals, and congratulating themselves on being young Masters of the Universe.

Being a Master of the Universe; it seemed like a noble pursuit, and as I walked past the Masters, in my cheap blue suit and clodhopper shoes, I found myself wishing I were one of them. But my new boss was quick to remind me that I wasn’t. “Your job”–he looked at the plastic nametag on my cheap blue lapel–“Jordan Belfort, is a connector, which means you’ll be dialing the phone five hundred times a day, trying to get past secretaries. You’re not trying to sell anything or recommend anything or create anything. You’ re just trying to get business owners on the phone.” He paused for a brief instant, then spewed out more venom. “And when you do get one on the phone, all you’ll say is: ‘Hello, Mr. So and So, I have Scott holding for you,’ and then you pass the phone to me and start dialing again. Think you can handle that, or is that too complicated for you?”

“No, I can handle it,” I said confidently, as a wave of panic overtook me like a killer tsunami. The LF Rothschild training program was six months long. They would be tough months, grueling months, during which I would be at the very mercy of assholes like Scott, the yuppie scumbag who seemed to have bubbled up from the fiery depths of yuppie hell.

Sneaking peaks at him out of the corner of my eye, I came to the quick conclusion that Scott looked like a goldfish. He was bald and pale, and what little hair he did have left was a muddy orange. He was in his early thirties, on the tall side, and he had a narrow skull and pink, puffy lips. He wore a bow tie, which made him look ridiculous. Over his bulging brown eyeballs he wore a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, which made him look fishy–in the goldfish sense of the word.

“Good,” said the scumbag goldfish. “Now, here are the ground rules: There are no breaks, no personal calls, no sick days, no coming in late, and no loafing off. You get thirty minutes for lunch”–he paused for effect–“and you better be back on time, because there are fifty people waiting to take your desk if you fuck up.” He kept walking and talking as I followed one step behind, mesmerized by the thousands of orange diode stock quotes that came skidding across gray-colored computer monitors. At the front of the room, a wall of plate glass looked out over midtown Manhattan. Up ahead I could see the Empire State Building. It towered above everything, seeming to rise up to the heavens and scrape the sky. It was a sight to behold, a sight worthy of a young Master of the Universe. And, right now, that goal seemed further and further away.

“To tell you the truth,” sputtered Scott, “I don’t think you’re cut out for this job. You look like a kid, and Wall Street’s no place for kids. It’s a place for killers. A place for mercenaries. So in that sense you’re lucky I’m not the one who does the hiring around here.” He let out a few ironic chuckles.

I bit my lip and said nothing. The year was 1987, and yuppie assholes like Scott seemed to rule the world. Wall Street was in the midst of a raging bull market, and freshly minted millionaires were being spit out a dime a dozen. Money was cheap, and a guy named Michael Milken had invented something called “junk bonds,” which had changed the way corporate America went about its business. It was a time of unbridled greed, a time of wanton excess. It was the era of the yuppie.

As we neared his desk, my yuppie nemesis turned to me and said, “I’ll say it again, Jordan: You’re the lowest of the low. You’re not even a cold caller yet; you’re a connector.” Disdain dripped off the very word. “And ’til you pass your Series Seven, connecting will be your entire universe. And that is why you are lower than pond scum. You got a problem with that?”

“Absolutely not,” I replied. “It’s the perfect job for me, because I am lower than pond scum.” I shrugged innocently.

Unlike Scott, I don’t look like a goldfish, which made me feel proud as he stared at me, searching my face for irony. I’m on the short side, though, and at the age of twenty-four I still had the soft boyish features of an adolescent. It was the sort of face that made it difficult for me to get into a bar without getting proofed. I had a full head of light brown hair, smooth olive skin, and a pair of big blue eyes. Not altogether bad-looking.

But, alas, I hadn’t been lying to Scott when I’d told him that I felt lower than pond scum. In point of fact, I did. The problem was that I had just run my first business venture into the ground, and my self-esteem had been run into the ground with it. It had been an ill-conceived venture into the meat and seafood industry, and by the time it was over I had found myself on the ass end of twenty-six truck leases–all of which I’d personally guaranteed, and all of which were now in default. So the banks were after me, as was some belligerent woman from American Express–a bearded, three-hundred-pounder by the sound of her–who was threatening to personally kick my ass if I didn’t pay up. I had considered changing my phone number, but I was so far behind on my phone bill that NYNEX was after me too.

We reached Scott’ s desk and he offered me the seat next to his, along with some kind words of encouragement. “Look at the bright side,” he quipped. “If by some miracle you don’t get fired for laziness, stupidness, insolence, or tardiness, then you migt actually become a stockbroker one day.” He smirked at his own humor. “And just so you know, last year I made over three hundred thousand dollars, and the other guy you’ll be working for made over a million.”

Over a million? I could only imagine what an asshole the other guy was. With a sinking heart, I asked, “Who’s the other guy?”

“Why?” asked my yuppie tormentor. “What’s it to you?”

Sweet Jesus! I thought. Only speak when spoken to, you nincompoop! It was like being in the Marines. In fact, I was getting the distinct impression that this bastard’s favorite movie was An Officer and a Gentleman, and he was playing out a Lou Gossett fantasy on me–pretending he was a drill sergeant in charge of a substandard Marine. But I kept that thought to myself, and all I said was, “Uh, nothing, I was just, uh, curious.”

“His name is Mark Hanna, and you’ll meet him soon enough.”

With that, he handed me a stack of three-by-five index cards, each of them having the name and phone number of a wealthy business owner on it. “Smile and dial,” he instructed, “and don’t pick up your fucking head ’til twelve.” Then he sat down at his own desk, picked up a copy of The Wall Street Journal, and put his black crocodile dress shoes on the desktop and started reading.

I was about to pick up the phone when I felt a beefy hand on my shoulder. I looked up, and with a single glance I knew it was Mark Hanna. He reeked of success, like a true Master of the Universe. He was a big guy–about six-one, two-twenty, and most of it muscle. He had jet-black hair, dark intense eyes, thick fleshy features, and a fair smattering of acne scars. He was handsome, in a downtown sort of way, giving off the hip whiff of Greenwich Village. I felt the charisma oozing off him.

“Jordan?” he said, in a remarkably soothing tone.

“Yeah, that’s me,” I replied, in the tone of the doomed. “Pond scum first-class, at your service!”

He laughed warmly, and the shoulder pads of his $2,000 gray pin-striped suit rose and fell with each chuckle. Then, in a voice louder than necessary, he said, “Yeah, well, I see you got your first dose of the village asshole!” He motioned his head toward Scott. I nodded imperceptibly. He winked back. “No worry: I’m the senior broker here; he’s just a worthless piker. So disregard everything he said and anything he might ever say in the future.”

Try as I might, I couldn’ t help but glance over at Scott, who was now muttering the words: “Fuck you, Hanna!”

Mark didn’t take offense, though. He simply shrugged and stepped around my desk, putting his great bulk between Scott and me, and he said, “Don’t let him bother you. I hear you’re a first-class salesman. In a year from now that moron will be kissing your ass.” I smiled, feeling a mixture of pride and embarrassment. “Who told you I was a great salesman?”

“Steven Schwartz, the guy who hired you. He said you pitched him stock right in the job interview.” Mark chuckled at that. “He was impressed; he told me to watch out for you.”

“Yeah, I was nervous he wasn’t gonna hire me. There were twenty people lined up for interviews, so I figured I better do something drastic–you know, make an impression.” I shrugged my shoulders. “He told me I’d need to tone it down a bit, though.” Mark smirked. “Yeah, well don’t tone it down too much. High pressure’s a must in this business. People don’t buy stock; it gets sold to them. Don’t ever forget that.” He paused, letting his words sink in. “Anyway, Sir Scumbag over there was right about one thing: Connecting does suck. I did it for seven months, and I wanted to kill myself every day. So I’ll let you in on a little secret”–and he lowered his voice conspiratorially–“You only pretend to connect. You loaf off at every opportunity.” He smiled and winked, then raised his voice back to normal. “Don’t get me wrong; I want you to pass me as many connects as possible, because I make money off them. But I don’t want you to slit your wrists over it, ’cause I hate the sight of blood.” He winked again. “So take lots of breaks. Go to the bathroom and jerk off if you have to. That’s what I did, and it worked like a charm for me. You like jerking off, I assume, right?”

I was a bit taken aback by the question, but as I would later learn, a Wall Street boardroom was no place for symbolic pleasantries. Words like shit and fuck and bastard and prick were as common as yes and no and maybe and please. I said, “Yeah, I, uh, love jerking off. I mean, what guy doesn’t, right?”

He nodded, almost relieved. “Good, that’s real good. Jerking off is key. And I also strongly recommend the use of drugs, especially cocaine, because that’ll make you dial faster, which is good for me.” He paused, as if searching for more words of wisdom, but apparently came up short. “Well, that’s about it,” he said. “That’s all the knowledge I can impart to you now. You’ll do fine, rookie. One day you’ll even look back at this and laugh; that much I can promise you.” He smiled once more and then took a seat before his own phone.

A moment later a buzzer sounded, announcing that the market had just opened. I looked at my Timex watch, purchased at JCPenney for fourteen bucks last week. It was nine-thirty on the nose. It was May 4, 1987, my first day on Wall Street. Just then, over the loudspeaker, came the voice of LF Rothschild’s sales manager, Steven Schwartz. “Okay, gentlemen. The futures look strong this morning, and serious buying is coming in from Tokyo.” Steven was only thirty-eight years old, but he’d made over $2 million last year. (Another Master of the Universe.) “We’re looking at a ten-point pop at the open,” he added, “so let’ s hit the phones and rock and roll!”

And just like that the room broke out into pandemonium. Feet came flying off desktops; Wall Street Journals were filed away in garbage cans; shirtsleeves were rolled up to the elbows; and one by one brokers picked up their phones and started dialing. I picked up my own phone and started dialing too.

Within minutes, everyone was pacing about furiously and gesticulating wildly and shouting into their black telephones, which created a mighty roar. It was the first time I’d heard the roar of a Wall Street boardroom, which sounded like the roar of a mob. It was a sound I’d never forget, a sound that would change my life forever. It was the sound of young men engulfed by greed and ambition, pitching their hearts and souls out to wealthy business owners across America.

“Miniscribe’ s a fucking steal down here,” screamed a chubbyfaced yuppie into his telephone. He was twenty-eight, and he had a raging coke habit and a gross income of $600,000. “Your broker in West Virginia? Christ! He might be good at picking coal-mining stocks, but it’s the eighties now. The name of the game is hightech!”

“I got fifty thousand July Fifties!” screamed a broker, two desks over.

“They’re out of the money!” yelled another.

“I’m not getting rich on one trade,” swore a broker to his client.

“Are you kidding?” snapped Scott into his headset. “After I split my commission with the firm and the government I can’t put Puppy Chow in my dog’s bowl!”

Every so often a broker would slam his phone down in victory and then fill out a buy ticket and walk over to a pneumatic tubing system that had been affixed to a support column. He would stick the ticket in a glass cylinder and watch it get sucked up into the ceiling. From there, the ticket made its way to the trading desk on the other side of the building, where it would be rerouted to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for execution. So the ceiling had been lowered to make room for the tubing, and it seemed to bear down on my head.

By ten o’clock, Mark Hanna had made three trips to the support column, and he was about to make another. He was so smooth on the phone that it literally boggled my mind. It was as if he were apologizing to his clients as he ripped their eyeballs out. “Sir, let me say this,” Mark was saying to the chairman of a Fortune 500 company. “I pride myself on finding the bottom of these issues. And my goal is not only to guide you into these situations but to guide you out as well.” His tone was so soft and mellow that it was almost hypnotic. “I’ d like to be an asset to you for the long term; to be an asset to your business–and to your family.”

Two minutes later Mark was at the tubing system with a quartermillion-dollar buy order for a stock called Microsoft. I’d never heard of Microsoft before, but it sounded like a pretty decent company. Anyway, Mark’s commission on the trade was $3,000. I had seven dollars in my pocket.

By twelve o’clock I was dizzy, and I was starving. In fact, I was dizzy and starving and sweating profusely. But, most of all, I was hooked. The mighty roar was surging through my very innards and resonating with every fiber of my being. I knew I could do this job. I knew I cou...

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