Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most bankable stars in the world.
The playboy actor is so bankable, he’s demanded one of the highest salaries in the film industry for the last couple of decades.
But controversy involving DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street forced the actor to give up a prized Oscar.
Financing movies is a huge business.
And Leonardo DiCaprio’s name alone is guaranteed profit and worldwide theatrical distribution, which is extremely rare.
There are only 30 actors in the world who have that same pedigree.
But sometimes where the financing comes from can be highly controversial and borderline illegal.
When Red Granite financed the $100 million production of Wolf of Wall Street, nobody questioned where the money came from.
And that’s why DiCaprio was forced to give over a gifted Marlon Brando Oscar originally gifted by Red Granite to him because the production allegedly embezzled money from the Malaysian government.
“Leonardo DiCaprio has handed over to the federal government an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando that he was gifted by Red Granite Pictures for his work on The Wolf of Wall Street, as the Department of Justice closes in on the production company’s alleged involvement in a massive Malaysian embezzlement scheme.
According to Deadline, the DOJ filed an asset seizure request Thursday in a California court against Red Granite, the film production company that has been accused of using millions of dollars stolen from a fund intended to benefit the people of Malaysia to pay for its productions.
In the filing, the government reportedly argued it should be entitled to seize the Red Granite films Dumb and Dumber To and Daddy’s Home as well as precious artwork purchased by the production company with what DOJ claims is stolen money.
The filing reportedly includes a request to seize real estate, valuable artwork by Van Gogh and Picasso and an original poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis, said to be worth $1.3 million, that reportedly hangs on the wall at Red Granite’s office.
An August expose in the Hollywood Reporter detailed the link between DiCaprio, his eponymous environmental foundation and 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund at the center of the scandal.
The DOJ alleges that Malaysian businessman and 1MDB advisor Jho Low funneled millions of dollars stolen from the fund into the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, including for the purchase of artwork that was later auctioned off at the actor’s annual environmental charity gala in St. Tropez, France.
The DOJ also alleges that hundreds of millions of dollars (of the more than $3 billion reported to have been misappropriated from the fund, in what could be the world’ largest-ever embezzlement scheme) went to Red Granite Pictures to fund its productions, including The Wolf of Wall Street, the 2013 financial crime dramedy for which DiCaprio won a Golden Globe in the starring role.
Red Granite — co-founded by the prime minister of Malaysia’s step-son, Riza Aziz, himself a central figure in the DOJ investigation — was reported to have given DiCaprio the Oscar won by Marlon Brando for his role in the 1954 classic On the Waterfront as a gift for his work on Wolf of Wall Street.”
DiCaprio appears to be innocent of these allegations and the DOJ has praised him for being fully cooperative in their investigation.
In fact, the Oscar winner actually reached out to the DOJ last summer to help cooperate with the investigation and hand over all the gifts and donations he received from Red Granite.
Not only did he receive a $25 million salary but his charity foundation also received huge donations.
His foundation’s statement read:
“In keeping the ill-gotten money, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is acting in complete contradiction to its mission statement, which is to be ‘dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants… while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.”
The irony is that a movie about gross embezzlement also embezzled its funding.