Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has returned Marlon Brando’s best actor Oscar statuette to the US government as part of an investigation into the money laundering by a state-owned Malaysian investment fund.
DiCaprio received Brando’s Oscar and other artefacts as his 38th birthday gift in 2012 from business associates at Red Granite Pictures, which also funded his film The Wolf of Wall Street.
The 42-year-old actor has voluntarily handed over the Oscar statuette and other expensive gifts amid investigation into a USD 3.5-billion money-laundering scheme.
Authorities from the US Department of Justice suspect that Red Granite co-founder Riza Aziz may have helped his stepfather, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, embezzle USD 4.5 billion from a political development scheme, reported Los Angeles Times.
The misappropriated funds were used to form the production company that funded the Martin Scorsese-directed movie, about a corrupt stockbroker.
The laundered money was used to fund a lavish lifestyle, including purchases of artwork and jewellery, the acquisition of luxury real estate and luxury yachts, the payment of gambling expenses, and the hiring of musicians and celebrities to attend parties.
The multi-million-dollar artworks in question include a Picasso painting, a photograph by Diane Arbus and a Jean- Michel Basquiat collage, which were supposedly gifted to DiCaprio by Jho Low, Red Granite’s purported financier.
The actor had accepted the art with the intention of auctioning off the pieces to raise money for his charitable foundation, according to his spokesperson said.
DiCaprio has already given the art and the Oscar to US authorities, the spokesperson added.
And though there are no plans at this time for DiCaprio to forfeit the money he received for his work on The Wolf of Wall Street, his spokesperson noted that the actor intends to offer the return of any “gifts or donations” under speculation with “the aid and instruction of the government”.