The infamous figure was quick to weigh in on the historic events surrounding GameStop last week, after Reddit-organised investors moved to punish billion-dollar Wall Street firms looking to capitalise on the ailing video game retailer’s woes by short-selling its stocks.
Framed by some as an uprising against corporate finance and its use of the “scam” practice, these individual investors all moved to buy up GameStop stocks, driving up their price from less than $30 to a peak of nearly $500, and pinching short-sellers in a so-called “short squeeze” to the tune of billions of dollars.
Amid the ensuing market frenzy, Robinhood – an investment app whose stated aim is to “democratise finance” – decided to block its users from buying and selling GameStop shares.
Belfort initially struck a cautionary tone last week, warning CNN that there would be “some massive victims”, who would likely be smaller investors who arrive at the party too late – buying stocks he said were not based in “any rational, fundamental value”.
While he said it was “amazing” to see Wall Street dealt some of the financial pain for once, he warned that “everyone's got to be really careful, because it's going to be like catching a falling knife when it unravels”.
But, this week, he sent out a message “of love, respect, support, and most importantly encouragement” to the Reddit insurgents – one arguably far more befitting his “Wolf of Wall Street” moniker.
Channelling the iconic speech delivered by Leonardo DiCaprio in his portrayal, the real-life Belfort branded Robinhood “f***ing hypocrites”, interspersing his monologue with footage from the film scene.
“For years I’ve been telling you guys to never take no for an answer, right? To never stop trading. To hold the line. Keep squeezing the f***** testicles of those dastardly short-sellers until you get what you want because you all deserve it,” he said.
“This s*** that Robinhood is pulling on us now, stopping us from trading, barring us from their platform – our home, the home that we built – what the f*** is that?
“I’ll tell you what it is – it’s Wall Street, it’s the hedge funds, it’s f****** Robinhood being f****** hypocrites, that’s what it is. It’s them trying to squash us, the little guy, to put us all back in our places instead of the other way around, like we’ve been doing to them.”
“So you know what, Wall Street? You know what, Robinhood? We’re not leaving.”
This is *the* best thing I've seen on the internet all year 😅 https://t.co/ATEjeLGRiv
In the film, the rousing speech comes in response to rumours Belfort is stepping down as head of his Stratton Oakmont firm after being made a formal suspect by the FBI.
Last week, talking to CNN, Belfort – who was banned from acting as a broker or investment adviser after being convicted on charges of securities fraud in 2004 – warned some of the activity collectively empowering individual investors may technically be illegal.
“The problem is it is sort of this loose collision where one person says 'Let's stick together and stay strong’,” he said. “And theoretically, that's illegal.
“But I doubt that the [US Securities and Exchange Commission] would try to make a case out of something like that.”
Robinhood has strenuously denied that it took the much-maligned decision to suspend trading of GameStop and other stocks last week in order to stem Wall Street’s losses.
““We had no choice in this case. We had to conform to our regulatory capital requirements,” CEO Vlad Tenev told Elon Musk on Sunday night during his Clubhouse appearance. Musk introduced him as “Vlad the stock impaler”.