The yachting disaster is one of the most dramatic scenes in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street, and like many of the tales in the Leonardo DiCaprio flick, it’s based on a true story. In real life, predatory tycoon Jordan Belfort bought a yacht in 1993 called Big Eagle and renamed her Nadine, after his English-born second wife. The vessel had been built in 1961 by Witsen & Vis in Holland for fashion icon Coco Chanel, but had undergone many transformations by the time Belfort got his mitts on it. Originally 121 feet long, in the 1970s she was extended by nearly 15 feet, and in 1988 she was cut in half and had another 29-foot section grafted on, finally totaling 167 feet.
The luxury yacht used in Scorsese’s film actually bears little resemblance to the Nadine, being a far more modern vessel. The director hired the 148-foot Lady M, built by Intermarine Savannah in 2002 and refit in 2011, for filming. It features luxury accommodations for 10 guests, and a marble and granite interior with gold accents.
In Coco Chanel’s day the yacht was mainly used to cruise from Monaco to Deauville for the summer horse racing season. The real Nadine sank in 1997 during a storm off the east coast of Sardinia while crossing from Porto Cervo to Capri, much as the movie depicts. Belfort has said that his insistence on sailing in a storm caused the yacht to capsize. Luckily, everyone on board at the time was rescued by the Italian coast guard.