A US-based entertainment industry-focused publication has reported that assets and funds possibly sourced from stolen Malaysian government investment arm 1MDB have made their way into an eyebrow-rising charity set up by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, known for wild fundraisers.
“Freewheeling bacchanals in which wives feel outnumbered by suspiciously predisposed Slavic women in bustiers and couples openly cavort in the bathroom stall,” was how The Hollywood Reporter (THR) said attendees described Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s (LDF) annual galas.
While it may have been an exaggeration, bacchanals some say translates directly into “orgy” or “orgies”, and refers to celebrations by the cult of Bacchus, the ancient god of the wine, grape harvest, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre.
The celebrations are well known for hedonistic pleasures like the use of alcohol, drugs, sexual orgies and experimentation as well as gluttony.
And if reports by the same publication are true, monies allegedly stolen from 1MDB may have made its way into the freewheeling charity foundation, some having been donated to the charity during the galas featuring whole sea bass dinners and predisposed Slavic hostesses.
This, said the publication, was based on the forfeiture filing against assets the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed was acquired via stolen 1MDB funds.
THR noted that the July 20 gala this year in St Tropez, was “an expression of one-percenter excess ostensibly in support of saving the environment”, noting that “guests were helicoptering in to dine on whole sea bass after watching a short film about the dangers of overfishing”.
The publication reported that at the St Tropez gala where tickets started at US$11,778, DiCaprio greeted a roomful of about 500 party-goers.
These included “oligarchs (Dmitry Rybolovlev), supermodels (Naomi Campbell) and plenty of fellow A-listers, among them Bono, Charlize Theron, Tobey Maguire, Robert De Niro, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Arnold Schwarzenegger”.
But it said that notably absent this year was controversial financier Jho Low, 35, described as “the bespectacled Malaysian businessman and party boy at the centre of the 1MDB scandal”.
Low, a drinking buddy of DiCaprio
Low, said THR, became a regular drinking buddy of DiCaprio in addition to cavorting with celebrity friends that included Paris Hilton, Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys.
No stranger to wild parties himself, THR noted that Low was notorious for stunts like sending 23 bottles of Cristal to Lindsay Lohan for her 23rd birthday at the club 1OAK in Las Vegas in 2009.
The publication pointed to allegations in the DOJ complaint that Low had used roughly US$1 billion in 1MDB funds for a personal shopping spree.
“This included the acquisition of a US$31 million penthouse in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, once occupied by Jay Z and Beyonce, and a US$39 million Hollywood Hills mansion a few doors down from DiCaprio.”
THR said that the 1MDB saga has been Hollywood-tinged from the start noting that Tim Leissner, the Goldman Sachs banker who brokered the deal that set everything in motion, is model Kimora Lee Simmons’ husband.
The publication said it was Riza Aziz – the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak – who provided the link to both Low and DiCaprio.
“It was Low who introduced Aziz to Joey McFarland, previously Hilton’s party booker, and together they set up Red Granite Pictures. Red Granite eventually would surprise Hollywood insiders by landing the rights to DiCaprio’s passion project The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Low himself was given a “special thanks” in the film’s credits and hailed as a “collaborator” in DiCaprio’s 2014 Golden Globes acceptance speech.
The financier, the publication said, returned the favour in grand fashion, citing the DOJ filing detailing Low’s US$11 million gambling bender with DiCaprio in Las Vegas and the US$600,000 Marlon Brando’s best actor Oscar statuette for ‘On the Waterfront’ which he gifted to the actor.
THR also related that DiCaprio seems to have “a notable habit of buddying up with smooth dudes who end up in federal prison for money crimes, from late investment adviser Dana Giacchetto to art dealer Helly Nahmad”.
The publication said that according to the LDF, the July 20 gala raised more than US$45 million in funds for global conservation efforts. Yet the organisation would provide no documentation to THR to support these and other claims.
It quoted Ray Madoff, head of The Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good at Boston College Law School, that “typically, Leonardo DiCaprio would gift his own assets to his donor-advised fund rather than using it as a fundraising vehicle”.
THR opined that DiCaprio, one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood, sainted by his professional and social circles for his globe-trotting do-gooding, may operate with comparatively little scrutiny so far, despite the questionable nature of the activities he was engaged in.
LDF has responded to queries by THR that it is supporting some of the best work on the planet and being efficient in doing so, and that its opaque nature was to protect donor’s anonymity.
And THR stressed that it has no evidence that the charity is anything but what it said it is, despite the questions raised.
Malaysiakini cannot independently verify all the allegations except for those cited as being from publicly available documents which are already a matter of record.