Behind the Wolf of Wall Street Fraud With Steve Madden

At 6 a.m. on June 20, 2000, police and federal agents in riot gear swarmed into shoe designer Steve Madden’s apartment on Mercer Street in New York with a warrant for his arrest.

Madden, then in his early 40s, had been implicated in the firm Stratton Oakmont’s “pump and dump” financial scandal, which will be familiar to anyone who’s watched Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. “When they asked, I was happy to flip stocks by buying and selling shares on the day of a company’s [initial public offering] and make a quick twenty to forty grand that I could invest in the business,” Madden writes in his forthcoming memoir The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell From Grace, & Came Back Stronger Than Ever (Radius Book Group, $27; Oct. 13), which he wrote with Jodi Lipper.

In one of the many serendipitous twists of fate that pepper his book, Madden wasn’t actually in his apartment the day the FBI came to arrest him. He was a few stories up in a second apartment he was renting in the same building, and slept through the entire drama. “It was probably the best night’s sleep I would get for several more years,” he writes.

The Cobbler, which is actually a nickname that Stratton Oakmont’s founder Jordan Belfort gave to Madden, is an occasionally dissonant combination of a self-help book, a 12 step-style mea culpa, and a triumphant “I built this” narrative.

While many of Madden’s introspective takeaways are unenlightened at best—the lesson from his 2 ½ years in prison is: “I screwed up, I paid my price, and I guess I had to go down that road to get to where I am now”—the book is a valuable, often riveting play-by-play of one man’s rise to riches. If Horatio Alger were transported to the 1990s and gave his characters an opioid addiction, this could be his story, too.