If you didn't already know, Leonardo DiCaprio is quite the art world impresario, but now the Oscar-award-winning (finally) actor is willingly handing over a $3.2 million Picasso painting and a $9 million Basquiat collage to the FBI, pending an investigation into a money-laundering scheme that's been linked to, literally, The Wolf of Wall Street film. At the center of the scandal is a fund called, "1 Malaysia Development Berhad," which was launched by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak. On Thursday, the US Department of Justice called for the seizure of $540 million in assets they believe were purchased using money taken from the fund, including a Picasso painting, a collage by Basquiat, and even Marlon Brando's Oscar statuette, which was gifted to DiCaprio for his 38th birthday.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the actor (read: Here's the Apocalyptic Painting Leonardo DiCaprio Just Purchased) told artnet News, "Prior to the government's filing of the civil pleading today, Mr. DiCaprio initiated return of these items, which were received and accepted by him for the purpose of being included in an annual charity auction to benefit his eponymous foundation. [...] Mr. DiCaprio is grateful for the support of the government in this effort, and continues to hope that justice is done in this matter."
The Picasso in question, Nature morte au crâne de taureau, was given to DiCaprio with a handwritten note from a friend of Jho Low, the Malaysian financier said to have had considerable control over the fund. The Basquiat collage, Redman One, was allegedly purchased with money controlled by Tanore, a company believed to also have been controlled by Low.
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