The Oscar-winning actors charity and the production company behind Wolf of Wall Street have come under scrutiny for ties to a $3 billion embezzlement scandal.
When was the last time a celebrity scandalnot a body parttruly broke the internet? In the age of long lens paparazzi, 24/7 reality TV coverage and conscious uncoupling, weve been subsisting on cheap, disposable drama and scripted Bachelor breakups. Nobody thinks big anymore. Surprisingly, the man to finally bring some old school Hollywood glamour back to the celebrity scandal game may be none other than the founder of the pussy posse himself, Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes, its come to this.
In 2016, DiCaprio stuck it to malicious memers everywhere when he finally won an Academy Award. Having put himself through the physical and emotional ringeri.e., growing an unflattering beardfor his critically acclaimed role in The Revenant, DiCaprio has found himself reduced to a bit part in an ongoing international saga. For anyone whos unaware of the still-breaking Malaysian money laundering scandal (coming soon to a court near you), DiCaprio boasts a minor role as Hollywood Actor 1. According to filings from the Department of Justices Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiatives largest single action ever, the Wolf of Wall Street star is inextricably linked to a set of alleged criminal masterminds.
Its a story as old as timeHollywood actor mistakenly bankrolls his movie about a financial criminal through stolen Malaysian money. 2013s Wolf of Wall Street was a famously risky investment that almost didnt make it to theaters. Luckily, financial aid arrived in the form of a mysterious production company called Red Granite Pictures, which contributed more than $100 million to DiCaprio and Martin Scorseses project. At the time, many joked that DiCaprios role as a Quaaludes-popping, philandering party boy was art imitating life, but nobody guessed that the entire crime film was vaguely criminal. Who knew that Wolf of Wall Street was so layered and nuanced?
As relayed by The Hollywood Reporter, investigators believe that much of Red Granite Pictures funding was diverted from production company 1MDB, which was set up seven years ago by the prime minister of Malaysia to spur local economic development. Allegedly, the company ciphered $155 million over 9,000 miles through a series of offshore shell companies. Red Granite Pictures was set up in 2010 by Riza Aziz, the Malaysian prime ministers stepson, and Christopher McFarland, a Kentucky businessman. These two like-minded individuals were introduced through their mutual friend, a Malaysian party boy by the name of Jho Low. Low was a fixture on the celebrity club circuit, a position he cemented by sending 23 bottles of Cristal to Lindsay Lohan at 1OAK for her 23rd birthday. Naturally, this is where our blue-eyed Hollywood Actor 1 enters the scene, summoned by the invocation of Cristal, Lindsay Lohan, and 1OAK.
Among his roster of celebrity friends, which included Paris Hilton, Jamie Foxx, and Alicia Keys, Leonardo DiCaprio was Lows No. 1 ride or die. Low and DiCaprio attended one anothers birthday parties; at Lows 30th birthday bash in 2012, DiCaprio reportedly rapped onstage with Busta Rhymes. The drinking buddies also engaged in bromantic activities, like an $11 million gambling bender in Las Vegas. Low and the Red Granite Pictures principals even gifted DiCaprio with a $600,000 present: Marlon Brandos Oscar from On the Waterfront. Because unlike these shady business dealings, Leonardo DiCaprios Oscars thirst was scarily transparent. Of course, DiCaprio probably had no idea that all of this money probably came out of 1MDB, and that he has the pissed-off Malaysian populace to thank for his Academy Award.
DiCaprio thanked the Red Granite Pictures founders by name in his 2014 Golden Globes acceptance speech, hailing them as collaborators. Wolf of Wall Street went on to gross about $400 million, none of which contributed to Malaysian economic prosperity. Adding irony to injury, the R-rated film wasnt even distributed in the Southeast Asian nation, which boasts strict morality laws.
But DiCaprios involvement gets even dicier. According to the DOJ, Low and McFarland diverted 1MDB funds to Leonardo DiCaprios philanthropic endeavors. Low even offered the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture to auction off for charityunfortunately, Low wasnt there to see if it sold for its $700,000 estimated value, having already fled to Taiwan in an attempt to elude international investigators. Because of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundations status as a donor-advised fund (as opposed to a nonprofit), the foundation is not required to file public revenue disclosures. According to Inside Philanthropy, Its difficult to characterize the giving of the DiCaprio Foundation because its status makes it impossible to look at its finances. And CharityWatchs Daniel Borochoff told The Hollywood Reporter, [DiCaprios] able to fundraise with one because hes such a huge international celebrity. If you were an unknown, it would be a lot harder because people would quickly start asking questions.
Despite The Hollywood Reporters repeated efforts, DiCaprio and his charity have refused to answer questions regarding the foundations transparency and accountability. Despite the growing 1MDB scandal, the Foundation seems intent on business (sorry, charity) as usual. On the very same day that the Department of Justice filed their formal complaint regarding the over $3 billion scandal, DiCaprio threw his third annual LDF fundraiser at a vineyard in St. Tropez. The star-studded event featured billionaires, helicopters, whole sea bass, and all the other nouns you might use in a game of Leonardo DiCaprio Mad Libs. Bono, Lana Del Rey, and Mariah Carey were among the many Hollywood luminaries in attendance. Unfortunately for next years sea bass budget, charities are not off-limits in these kinds of asset-seizure cases.
This isnt DiCaprios first brush with criminality by association. Stockbroker to the stars Dana Giacchetto counted the A-lister among his most valued clientsprior to his 2001 sentence for securities fraud. DiCaprio also palled around with Helly Nahmad, the infamous art dealer who served time for operating an illegal gambling business out of his Trump Tower lodgings. Despite DiCaprios close association with this new group of alleged conspirators, its highly unlikely that hell be prosecuted for any wrongdoing. The actor, who earned over $25 million from The Wolf of Wall Street, has returned to his comfort zone: 24-year-old models and Tobey Maguire. Meanwhile, Red Granite Pictures is cooperating with inquiries, and is still functioning out of a Sunset Strip office right above DiCaprios own Appian Way. The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.
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