Leonardo Di Caprio - via Official Facebook Page
CAIRO – 21 June 2017: Hollywood megastar Leonardo DiCaprio has handed over several famous works of art to the U.S. Department of Justice in relation to an investigation into a Malaysian money-laundering scheme involving Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, media reported earlier this week.
The works DiCaprio handed over were valued at nearly $13 million and included a Picasso painting, a Basquiat collage, a Diane Arbus photograph and the Oscar Marlon Brando won for his performance in 1954’s “On the Waterfront.”
The paintings and photograph were gifts to DiCaprio in 2012 from Malaysian financiers connected with Raza Aziz, the co-founder of production house Red Granite Pictures. The production house produced DiCaprio’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” where Brando’s Oscar was a set gift to DiCaprio, The Wrap reported Sunday.
According to the Chicago Tribune, DiCaprio initially said he would auction the items off for charity, but thereafter willingly handed them over to the Department of Justice.
DiCaprio’s voluntary surrendering of the art comes as part of an ongoing investigation. Aziz is suspected to have helped his father-in-law, Malaysian Prime Minister Razak, embezzle over $4 billion dollars. It is suspected that some of the money was used to finance the production house’s film.
The Basquiat collage “Redman One” is valued at at least $9 million, Picasso’s “Nature Morte au Crane de Taureau” is valued at more than $3 million and the Diane Arbus photograph around $750,000. All three pieces were part of the complaint filed last week by the Justice Department.
The Oscar was not mentioned in the Justice Department’s complaint, despite being a gift from Red Granite, but was turned over voluntarily with other art pieces.
Moreover, according to DiCaprio’s spokesperson, the star had no issues cooperating with the U.S. government. ”Last July, upon hearing of the government’s civil action against certain parties involved in the making of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Mr. DiCaprio’s representatives – working under his instruction – initiated contact with the Department of Justice,” said the star’s spokesperson. “This effort was to determine if there were any gifts or charitable donations originating from the parties named in the civil complaint, and to offer the return of any such gifts or donations with the aid and instruction of the government.”