'Wolf of Wall Street' Leaves Friend Howling
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) - A Long Island man who says the Oscar-nominated film "The Wolf of Wall Street" falsely portrayed him as a "criminal, a drug user and a degenerate" has sued Paramount Pictures for $25 million.
Andrew Greene, of Huntington Station, N.Y., says in Federal Court that the fictional character Nicky "Rugrat" Koskoff uses his "likeness, image and characterization." P.J. Byrne plays the character in the Best Picture-nominated flick.
Koskoff's scenes in the movie were "fundamentally injurious" to Greene's "professional reputation both as an attorney and as an investment banker/venture capitalist as well as his personal reputation," according to the complaint.
The movie, which opened on Christmas Day 2013, is a fictionalized telling of the trading exploits of Jordan Belfort, who founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont and who was indicted on securities fraud and money laundering charges in 1998. One of Belfort's two memoirs is also titled "The Wolf of Wall Street," and his story also inspired the 2000 film "Boiler Room."
Leonardo DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Belfort in the movie.
Green - who was a childhood friend of Belfort and attended law school at California Western in San Diego from 1986 to 1990 - led Stratton Oakmont's Corporate Finance Department and served as a member of its board of directors until his resignation in 1996.
Greene says he frequently wore a toupee, and that in several scenes in the movie, Rugrat's use of a toupee "is accentuated and mocked in an egregiously offensive manner."
He also takes issue that his character is introduced with a reference to his "piece-of-shit hairpiece."
The movie also contains various scenes wherein Koskoff is portrayed as "depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics," Greene says.
In one scene, for example, his character is shown shaving a woman's head after Belfort's character says the woman was offered $10,000. In a voice-over, Belfort's character says that Koskoff was busted in Miami with a Swiss banker, ultimately leading to Belfort's arrest.
Another voice-over claims that Koskoff set up a meeting with that Swiss banker to launder money.
The character was also shown doing cocaine on company property and during business hours, and is said to frequent the services of a prostitute, according to the complaint.
Greene says he never consented to the use of his image and characterization in the movie, adding that defendants Paramount, Red Granite Pictures Inc., Appian Way LLC and Sikelia Productions Inc. violated his rights to privacy.
In addition to $25 million in damages, Greene wants the film and all advertising materials turned over to him.
He is represented by Stephanie Ovadia of Syosset, N.Y., and Aaron Goldsmith in Manhattan.