Calling out Leo?
Last week The Hollywood Reporter published an article about Leonardo DiCaprio’s charitable foundation and whether or not it accepted dirty money resulting from the 1 MDB embezzlement scandal. Today THR is following up with another report about another charity, The Bruno Manser Funds, which raises awareness for Malaysian rainforest protection, calling out Leo for his “double standards” and urging him to give back the cash:
The Bruno Manser Funds, a rainforest charity active in Malaysian Borneo, has written an open letter to DiCaprio calling on him to return money he received from individuals connected to the 1MDB Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, now the subject of a major Justice Department asset seizure complaint. While there is no direct link between the Bruno Manser Funds and the actor, the organization says DiCaprio, as founder of his environmental charity and a designated U.N. Messenger of Peace, has a responsibility to help stop corruption.
The development comes just a week after The Hollywood Reporter published a major expose looking into the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, questioning its ties to 1MDB and lack of transparency, as well as DiCaprio's relationship with controversial businessman Jho Low and Najib Razak, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, which produced the 2013 DiCaprio starrer The Wolf of Wall Street.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is alleged to have received money from a Christie’s charity auction in 2013 where Low is alleged to have used $1.1 million of diverted 1MDB funds to buy two works of art. Later that year, Low and Red Granite co-founder Joey McFarland were among those reported to have helped raise $3 million for the foundation by buying marked-up bottles of champagne at DiCaprio’s birthday party. And just last year, Low donated a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture to the foundation, which auctioned it off at a charity event in St. Tropez.
In its letter, the Bruno Manser Funds said it was “deeply disturbed” that DiCaprio and his foundation would accept “assets that originate from the proceeds of corruption in Malaysia,” adding that it was a “total disgrace” and in “total contradiction” with the foundation’s declared aims.
In addition to the donations, the Bruno Manser Funds argues that Leo should also return the fee he was paid on The Wolf Of Wall Street as it’s been alleged that financing for the film also came from the money scam. Apparently Malaysian politicians approved logging contracts in exchange for support and that logging activity is a “major driver of deforestation” in the area, an issue that Leo has actively campaigned against.
I wonder how Leo and his people feel about THR being all over this. And how this will go over the next time he has to promote a movie. Like at TIFF where he’s screening an environmental awareness documentary. So far Leo hasn’t publicly responded to the controversy. Were he and his foundation just naïve? Is it impossible to research the origin of every single dollar? Or should they have been more vigilant about taking money from a dude who was throwing money around at parties and then disappeared? Maybe it’s just that when you’re that wealthy and you spend so much time surrounded exclusively by people who are that wealthy, over time your threshold for corruption gets kinda blurred.
Here’s Leo in Malibu last night having dinner with Alejandro G Inarritu and The Revenant team. Please God no, not another movie about another f-cking struggle.