One of America’s most beloved fraudsters is bounding into the cryptocurrency world. Jordan Belfort, better known by his moniker “The Wolf of Wall Street,” sees cryptocurrencies as “digital gold” and wants in. That’s great, because if there are two things the decentralized digital finance industry really needs, they’re thicker lines of cocaine and more sexism.
Though he may boast Wall Street bona fides (or persona non grata status, depending on whom you’re asking), Belfort is new to cryptocurrency and newly bullish on it. He’s evangelizing non-fungible tokens now, but he decried them not long ago. He revealed some of his thinking around tokens in a New York Times feature published Friday, where a journalist joined the Wolf (who spent 22 months in federal prison for 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering) in his Miami Beach house. He was joined alongside an assortment of ill-dressed blockchain evangelists who engaged in a weekend-long workshop fuelled by what appears to be Red Bull, Pineapple Juice, Perrier, and milky coffee. Booze was plentiful, though Belfort was careful to inform the Times he hadn’t gotten high in 25 years. On his website, Belfort described the workshop as “an intimate financial experience jam-packed with tailored advice, strategy, networking, industry experts and more.” Belfort claims he’s had “literally thousands of requests” to host a cryptocurrency/NFT masterclass.
“I believe, personally, this [cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance] is the future of finance and you need to know this stuff,” Belfort said. “I’m gonna, of course, be accepting payment in crypto. I’ll take either Bitcoin or Ethereum.”
Guests, who were reportedly chosen from a pool of 600 applicants, paid around $US40,000 ($55,528) for a seat at the weekend workshop, which was advertised as including jet ski riding, yachting, and dinner at Belfort’s house. Presumably, some business-adjacent things were discussed too. Attendees included a crypto-miner from Kazakhstan and an Idaho roofing company owner, amongst others. Around half of the attendees said they’d been on the receiving end of a hacking attempt, according to The Times, as has Belfort himself.
Belfort, the born again Bitcoiner
Belfort claims he’s been heavily investing in crypto and NFTs. At least on the NFT side, he’s putting some of his money where his mouth is. Late last year, the millionaire reportedly spent $US423,000 ($587,209) on a Cryptopunk NFT and has since assigned it as his Twitter profile photo. The convicted fraudster also told the Times he’s an investor in a new NFT platform, fittingly called nft.com. That’s a far cry from where Belfort was three years ago when he uploaded a YouTube video from the passenger seat of a car warning of mass delusion around Bitcoin.
“There’s so many better ways to make money than to sit there in front of your computer and try to trade Bitcoin. You’re on a sinking ship,” Belfort said. “Don’t get sucked into this frickin insanity, because that’s what it is.” Taking a complete 180-degree turn, Belfort last month praised Bitcoin in an interview with Fortune, claiming he believed the cryptocurrency would hit the $US100,000 ($138,820) mark. Belfort has also supported calls for increased regulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Befort’s still not sold on all aspects of crypto, at least for now. In December, the Wolf railed against Dogecoin and other so-called meme coins as “jokes with no real value” according to an interview in The Sun. Belfort, who reportedly may have defrauded investors out of somewhere around $US200 ($278) million dollars in his heyday, criticised some cryptocurrencies as “shit coins which serve no purpose and are only there to separate people from their money.” Days after that interview Belford revealed he would be a key speaker at a blockchain conference in Abu Dhabi.
Belfort is far from alone among crypto shills who are already rich and famous. Kim Kardashian, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mike Tyson have all publicly expressed support for cryptocurrencies in recent year with varying levels of alleged graft and cringe.