Leonardo DiCaprio had a lot to learn before playing louche stockbroker Jordan Belfort in the 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“Leo had never done drugs, so I showed him what it looks and feels like when you are high on quaaludes,” the real Belfort, 55, told The Post. “I . . . started crawling around. We were both on the floor, drooling. His father walked into the room and asked us what the f--k we were doing.”
Now, sober for 20 years (following a near-fatal overdose) and having served 22 months in prison for stock fraud and money laundering, Belfort says he has more to teach the world as he pursues his “redemption.”
His new book, “Way of the Wolf” (North Star Way, out Sept. 26), purports to provide the blueprint to Belfort’s sales success — a system that he previously peddled online for the asking price of $2,000.
Among his advice is how to use body language and speech patterns to establish expertise and dominate the pitch. And he stresses that it’s all on the up-and-up.
“I drill the idea of ethics and of not going over the line,” Belfort said. “If you use this system in the wrong way, selling people stuff they don’t need, you will make 20 percent more at the start but have a big problem later on.” He should know. In the 1990s, Belfort ran a stock brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, where young, aggressive guys whom Belfort described to The Post as “not the sharpest tools in the shed,” would hard-sell clients into buying lousy penny-stocks designed to fail. “They jammed them down people’s throats,” said Belfort, a dentalschool dropout born in The Bronx.
Those stocks would then be “pumped and dumped” — the prices artificially inflated in order to sell at a higher price — by Stratton Oakmont, resulting in hundreds of millions in profits for the companyompany and ransacked accounts for clients.
In 1999, Belfort pleadeded guilty to stock fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to four years and ordered to pay $110 millionmillion in restitution to former clients.ents. But, as depicted in his 20077 book, “The Wolf of Wall Street,”et,” and the movie, millions in ill--gotten gains had already been blown on prostitutes, cocaine and gambling.
Upon release, with thehe encouragement of cell-mate Tommy Chong — and benefiting from weakened Son of Sam laws, which are supposed to prevent convicted criminals from profiting off of their crimes — Belfort received a hefty advance for his book and another $940,500 for the movie rights.
“I started from scratch [with no money or assets, which had all been seized] and in seven years paid back $4 or $5 million to a [victims’] fund.
“My first book advance was $550,000; the second [for the 2009 sequel, “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street”] was $750,000. I paid back 50 percent,” he explained. “For a time, I ggave 100 ppercent of the movie money [which did not come in a lump sum].”
The government has accused Belfort of dragging his feet over the restitution — a charge he denies. (A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.)
One victim, Alfred Vitt, a retired dentist in Texas, said Belfort still owes him more: “I lost $250,000 and received [back] a small fraction of it. We’re supposed to get something every month from Belfort. I haven’t gotten anything for the last six or eight months.” The Wolf swears more is coming. “For the last two years I have been writing and doing less speaking, so [earnings] have been lousy.”
He adds that he’s willing to pay out even more if someone can just identify where it should go.
“We asked for a list of who is owed money, and the judge said that the list cannot be released. I want to pay back everyone who is owed money. It’s a moral obligation. I want to have the greatest redemption story.”
Today, Belfort lives with his partner of 10 years, Anne Koppe, in a luxe Manhattan Beach, Calif., home by the Pacific Ocean. Speaking engagements — as many as 150 a year — generate up to $100,000 per day. He still lives the good life, driving a Mercedes and taking tennis lessons from Jeff Tarango, formerly one of the world’s top 10 doubles players.
He admits to some regrets. “If I could change things so that I didn’t lose people money, I would go back. But I’d keep all the hookers and drugs . . . That was my life.”
TOASTED: Leonardoo DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for playing Belfort in the movieovie adaptation of “Wolf of WallWall Street.”
PAY DAY: Convicted trader Jordan Belfort has been shelling out restitution to former clients bilked by his past financial schemes.