In 1987, Jordan Belfort lands a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna. He is quickly enticed into the sex and drug-fueled stockbroker culture and passes on his idea that a broker’s only goal is to make money for himself. Jordan loses his job following Black Monday, the largest one-day stock market drop in history, and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.
Jordan befriends his neighbor Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the “hard sell.” Jordan’s tactics and salesmanship largely contribute to the success of his pump and dump scheme, which involves inflating the price of a stock through issuing misleading, positive statements in order to sell it at an artificially augmented price.
When the perpetrators of the scheme sell their overvalued securities, the price drops immensely and those who were conned into buying at the inflated price are left with stock that is suddenly worth a lot less than what they paid. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name Stratton Oakmont in 1989.
After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia; when his wife finds out, Jordan divorces her and marries Naomi in 1991. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont.
In 1993, Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm further to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi’s Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who have European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.
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