Posted on Monday, December 30th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
The biggest debate over Martin Scorsese‘s current hit The Wolf of Wall Street hasn’t been its quality. Its been its ethics. The film shows stockbrokers lead by Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) abusing the legal and financial systems to ridiculous gain, only to blow it all on lavish possessions and parties. Some have said the film glorifies these actions. Others, and I’m in this camp, think it paints Belfort as a terrible person and ends up being a harsh criticism of America’s economic character.
Another reason for the controversy is the film features a cameo by Belfort himself, a convicted criminal and informant who is presumably profiting from both the movie and increased sales of his book on which Scorsese’s film is based. Since Belfort has failed to make the restitution payments mandated by his 2003 conviction — he’s got almost $100m to go — that’s been a huge sticking point for some.
However, Belfort has taken to social media to explain where his new money is going. While he will profit from the film, all of the money is being turned over to the government as continuted restitution for his years of criminal activity.
Belfort wrote the following on Facebook:
As you can imagine, I am very busy right now, but I owe this post to all my loyal friends and fans who have supported me since the beginning: For the record, I am not turning over 50% of the profits of the books and the movie, which was what the government had wanted me to do. Instead, I insisted on turning over 100% of the profits of both books and the movie, which is to say, I am not making a single dime on any of this. This should amount to countless millions of dollars and hopefully be more than enough to pay back anyone who is still out there. I thought this was already public information, as I have already said it publicly numerous times, but apparently there is so much NOISE right now that it has gotten lost in the shuffle. So, again, for the record: I am not making any royalties off the film or the books, and I am totally content with that. My income comes from new life, which is far better than my old one. (Although I will admit the Quaaludes were kind of fun, at least in the beginning. Thankfully, they’re illegal! and impossible to find!)
Now we’ll see how much income his “new life” creates now that his name is on everyone’s lips once more. And does he really think that he, personally, will make enough from the movie and books to pay his full restitution?
In case you aren’t sure where Belfort’s cameo is, he’s the person who introduces the film Belfort in the film’s final scene.
What are your thoughts on Belfort profiting from this film?