A homeless man photographed sleeping on cardboard pizza boxes on a New York City sidewalk was discovered to be 52-year-old William Preston King, a once successful Wall Street stockbroker and former friend of Jordan Belfort, whose life was the subject of Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The homeless King was photographed by the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) as part of a campaign to push City Hall to fix the homeless problem, according to the New York Post. After the SBA sent their collection of photographs to their 5,000 subscribers this week, King, who was captured sleeping on pizza boxes in Greenwich Village, was identified by his younger sister Kristine King, who came forward in an attempt to locate her brother.
King, who once held powerful positions in Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer & Co., used to live a life of luxury that included a Soho loft and BMW. He also led an extreme party life similar to what was portrayed in Scorsese’s film — dance clubs, plenty of alcohol, prescription drugs and mountains of cocaine.
The ex-stockbroker, who was friends with Jordan Belfort back in their Wall Street days, dropped out of New York University but proved to be highly intelligent. He reportedly placed in the top 2% of the infamously difficult Series 7 stockbrokers exam and taught himself to speak five languages — it took him three weeks to learn French fluently and he learned Dutch while on a vacation to Amsterdam.
However, dangerous life choices and drug abuse over 30 years led him to his now homeless state.
Kristine King last spoke to her brother in January but communication stopped after several incidents occurred at her house where he was staying. Ms. King explained that her brother had been staying with her but his abuse of the prescription drug Adderall led him to steal from her:
“I screamed at him about taking the money and told him to write me a letter and apologize when he comes clean, and we’ll talk. That was the last time we spoke.”
The last that King’s family had heard of him was that he was in rehab at Arms Acres in Putnam County. Ms. King told the Post:
“Where he was then, and where he is now, sleeping on cardboard boxes, it’s unthinkable to me and heartbreaking.
“The kid had everything at his fingertips. Anything he wanted he could have.”
Now, Ms. King is desperately searching the streets of New York City to track down her brother with the help of the NYPD. She told the New York Post:
“I want him to know his sister loves him and wants to get him help and wants to make sure he’s OK. I would go to the end of the Earth to protect and save him.”
Jordan Belfort has not responded to requests for comments.