Jordan Belfort, the subject of Martin Scorsese‘s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is suing the movie’s producers in a $300 million fraud lawsuit. The film, based on Belfort’s memoir of the same name, describes Belfort’s rise as a stockbroker, from penny stock scammer to founder of Stratton Oakmont, a fraudulent brokerage firm that leads to Belfort’s lavish wealth until his eventual downfall.The Wolf of Wall Street’s abundant depiction of drug use , sexual content, and profane language brushed up against censors at the time of its release, and was a source of debate amongst critics.
According to Variety, Belfort’s tune has changed following revelations about Red Granite Pictures, one of the production companies that financed Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. Red Granite and CEO Riza Aziz are currently facing charges for embezzling $248 million dollars from a Malaysian state-run development fund. Belfort claims he had no idea the film was made with stolen money, and argues the scandal has tainted the rights to his story.
Following a civil forfeiture suit filed by the US Department of Justice in 2016, Red Granite agreed to settle for $60 million in 2018. The company was much more dismissive of Belfort’s suit. “Jordan Belfort’s lawsuit is nothing more than a desperate and supremely ironic attempt to get out from under an agreement that for the first time in his life has made him rich and famous through lawful and legitimate means,” said Red Granite attorney Matthew Schwartz in a statement. Belfort himself is said to only have paid $12.8 million of the $110 million owed to investors.
The news of a movie centered on people making money by ripping off others being funded by money siphoned off of a government fund is certainly ironic even before Belfort’s ultimately shaky defense to get a larger paycheck out of the biopic. It could also serve as great publicity for the 2013 hit, given there is a dark authenticity to the movie’s greed. Scorsese is yet to comment on the Red Granite scandal, and has most recently been in the news for his comments on the ubiquitously popular Marvel franchise, which drew criticism from fellow directors like James Gunn, and been the source of jokes at the most recent Golden Globes. In any case, the greedy legacy of The Wolf of Wall Street lives on.