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Wolf of Wall Street producer Joey McFarland handed over a trove of movie memorabilia including vintage posters from Hollywood classics King Kong and Cool Hand Luke as well as a drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat as the U.S. government continues to reclaim items alleged to have been purchased via money stolen from Malaysia’s scandal-plagued 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.
Bloomberg reported that according to a filing presented in a Los Angeles federal court Monday, McFarland had received the valuable vintage posters, artwork as well as a cache of luxury watches from fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low, the alleged mastermind behind the theft of billions from the 1MDB fund. Around $5 billion has been found missing from the fund since the thefts were first discovered in 2015.
Other items seized from McFarland included rare posters from German director Fritz Lang’s 1932 classic M and the 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet. McFarland said he was unaware the gifts might have come from money stolen from the wealth fund.
McFarland, in tandem with Riza Aziz, established Red Granite Pictures in 2010. The company went on to finance and produce a string of Hollywood movies, including Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace, Alexandre Aja’s Horns and most notably Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and made $392 million at the global box office.
Aziz, the stepson of the now disgraced former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was arrested in Kuala Lumpur on July 4 and charged with five counts of money laundering from Good Star Ltd., a company linked to Low. He faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of the charges and is currently out on bail.
The charges against Aziz claim he laundered US$248 million into a U.S. (Red Granite Productions Inc.) and a Singapore (Red Granite Capital Ltd.) bank account between 2010 and 2012.
Red Granite last year paid out $60 million to settle a claim that the company had financed the box office hit Wolf of Wall Street with cash siphoned from 1MDB.
In July 2016, the Department of Justice filed the largest forfeiture complaint in U.S. history, citing $1 billion of assets. The assets listed included Aziz’s mansion in Beverly Hills and Park Laurel condominium in New York; Low’s Hollywood Hills mansion and Time Warner Center apartment in Manhattan; Low’s remaining unsold artworks consisting of two Monet oil paintings and a van Gogh pen and ink sketch; plus all future profits from Wolf of Wall Street.
The sprawling scandal also dragged in DiCaprio, whom Low lavished with gifts including a Pablo Picasso painting purchased for $3.28 million, a photograph by Diane Arbus purchased for $750,000 and a Basquiat collage purchased for $9,191,040. Low also gifted DiCaprio the best actor Oscar won by Marlon Brando for his performance in On the Waterfront.
DiCaprio has voluntarily surrendered to the government Brando’s Oscar as well as the artworks referenced.
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