The current coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc the world over, a health crisis which has been felt heavily within the film industry. With filming cancelled, production halted and cinemas across the globe closed amid strict social distancing measures, cinephiles and film fans have been forced into the world of online streaming as a source of entertainment. Here, as part of Far Out’s popular ‘Hollyweird’ section, we have been spending time looking back at Hollywood’s more remarkable misadventures.
In the latest edition, we revisit the time in 2017 when Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio somehow found himself embroiled in a federal case involving financier Jho Low and the former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Jho Low, a Malaysian financier, who was arrested on charges of committing fraud, once gifted DiCaprio the Oscar won by Marlon Brando for his performance in 1954 On the Waterfront. Low and Razak were among a number of people accused of siphoning billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund meant to benefit projects that would serve the Malaysian public.
Instead of using the projects to benefit the Malaysian people, Low was accused of taking billions from the fund in order to fund his lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors, at the time, claimed that he purchased a $250m custom-built yacht, amassed an art collection worth in excess of $200m with paintings by the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso and secured the rights to a $35m jet. According to Robin Rathmell, Low’s lawyer, he “does not consider it proper for any government to seize property belonging to the trusts or himself,” while the possessions are thought to be locked into trusts.
One other luxury, Brando’s aforementioned Oscar, is said to have been purchased by Low for $600,000 from a film memorabilia dealer and subsequently gifted to DiCaprio. However, a spokesman told the New York Times that the government has the right to purchase.
According to reports, DiCaprio’s link to Mr Low continues into a feature film. The same Times claimed that Low financed Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street with what was being described by prosecutors as “illegally obtained funds”. Low’s money was financed through the film through a production label called ‘Red Granite Pictures’.
DiCaprio willingly relinquished all gifts which he had received from Mr Low which included the Oscar and the Pablo Picasso painting “Nature Morte Crâne de Taureau” (Still Life With Bull’s Head).