Leonardo DiCaprio has surrendered an Oscar — just thankfully it’s not the statuette with his name on it.
The award — originally won by Marlon Brando and years later given to DiCaprio as a gift — has been handed over to federal agents as evidence in a global corruption scandal involving the movie’s producers and a Malaysian wealth fund.
Here’s what going on:
How did Leonardo DiCaprio get involved with a scandal in Malaysia?
DiCaprio’s movie, “Wolf of Wall Street” was funded by Red Granite Films. One of the co-founders of the studio, Riza Aziz, is the step-son of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak.
How bad is the scandal?
Money meant for Malaysia’s economic development fund, 1Malaysia Development Fund, was apparently funneled to Red Granite Films, Department of Justice officials say. The fund was supposed to be a global investment fund, with the money going back to the people of Malaysia for infrastructure projects.
Why is United States government is involved?
Justice officials are trying to get recover the money meant for the Malaysians, by seizing items and assets purchased with the money. Red Granite films is a studio that includes the rights and profits to films like “Wolf of Wall Street” “Dumb and Dumber To,” several pieces of art, jewelry and bank accounts full of cash. The Malaysian Prime Minister argues that he’s done nothing wrong, but DiCaprio is cooperating with authorities.
How did DiCaprio get Brando’s Oscar?
Brando won the trophy for his work in 1954’s “On the Waterfront” and later claimed in his autobiography that it disappeared and he spent years trying to find it. Fast forward to 2013 when Aziz and Red Granite co-founder Joey MacFarland gave DiCaprio the Oscar as a 38th birthday gift after allegedly paying around $600,000 for it through a New Jersey memorabilia dealer, according to reports.
Can you even sell an Oscar?
No. To add more corruption to this toxic tale, an Academy Award cannot be sold, according to the Academy’s bylaws and the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled years ago that any Oscar won after 1951 belongs to the Academy.
Along with the Oscar, what else will DiCaprio lose?
Some of the items being seized were given to DiCaprio for to sell in a recent charity auction to raise money for his environmental foundation, those items are being returned. Additionally, DiCaprio could lose his $25 million “Wolf of Wall Street” acting salary, plus millions more because he was also a producer on the film.
Isn’t it weird that two movies about corruption are involved in a corruption plot?
You’re right. “Wolf of Wall Street” is the story of corruption on, where else?, Wall Street and “On the Waterfront” is about corruption among union workers. As they say, art imitates life.