Summers for Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-winning actor and professional Victoria’s Secret slayer, are the stuff of Instagram envy: vaping on yachts overflowing with models, Citi Bikin’ through your ’hood with a model in tow, or achieving a state of fuckboy nirvana whilst frolicking in a field armed with a water gun. I mean, this is a guy who calls J. Lo “boo boo,” after all.
But alas, the superstar actor’s turn as the living embodiment of Prestige Worldwide™ has hit a major snag this past week. No, he didn’t accidentally date someone over the age of 25; rather, he’s found himself embroiled in a series of bizarre (and troubling) mini-scandals that seem very off-brand for the remarkably talented (and remarkably Teflon) thespian.
The first came last Wednesday, when The Hollywood Reporter uncorked a doozy of a story chronicling DiCaprio’s alleged ties to a $3.5 billion Malaysian embezzlement scandal—one described by the U.S. Department of Justice as “the largest single action ever brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.” The fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was owned by the Malaysian government, and had raised upwards of $8 billion to benefit the Malaysian people. However, according to the DOJ, $3.5 billion of that money was “misappropriated” between 2009 and 2015, including establishing a production company called Red Granite Pictures that bankrolled DiCaprio’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street (and has an office right above DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, in West Hollywood, California), and also donating millions from the fund to the actor’s charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Though not directly targeted, DiCaprio is named as “Hollywood Actor 1” in a 136-page complaint filed by the DOJ.
“This fraud went on around the world,” said Special Agent Darryl Wegner, chief of the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, which investigated the case along with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigative Division. “At least $1 billion traceable to the conspiracy was laundered through the United States and used to purchase assets here.”
DiCaprio’s foundation bills itself as “dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants,” and claims to have awarded $59.6 million in charitable grants since 1998. Because it is a donor-advised fund (DAF) it is not required to disclose its financial revenue, so we cannot be sure exactly how efficient and accountable the organization is. This may also very well be a case of DiCaprio getting mixed up with the wrong people, with no prior knowledge of their alleged crimes—though the actor has made a habit of cozying up to sketchy figures in the past, from jailed money manager Dana Giacchetto to Helly Nahmad, an art dealer who was busted running a gambling ring out of his penthouse in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
Given all the focus on his foundation’s connection to the embezzlement case, many an eyebrow was raised when DiCaprio backed out of hosting a $33,400-plate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at the last minute. According to Page Six, guests at the pricey event were sent an email stating that “the production schedule for [DiCaprio’s] climate change film ‘Before the Flood’ has altered…which will prevent him from returning to Los Angeles…As a result, Leo personally asked his friends Justin Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel to host Tuesday’s lunch with Hillary at their home in the Hollywood Hills.”But Page Six, as is their wont, alleged that “some attendees wondered if the move had more to do with the THR report” on the DiCaprio Foundation’s ties to the embezzlement scandal. Given the Clinton Foundation’s ongoing scrutiny over everything from pay-for-play allegations with Hillary Clinton’s State Department to donations from hostile foreign governments, it sure wouldn’t look good to have someone in the midst of their own charity imbroglio hosting a Hillary fundraiser.
In light of the THR report, the conservative street artist Sabo placed a poster on Hollywood Boulevard of DiCaprio and Clinton trapped in money laundering machines.
And if that weren’t enough, on Saturday afternoon at approximately 4:45 p.m., DiCaprio and his girlfriend, Victoria’s Secret model Nina Agdal, were involved in a fender-bender on Montauk Highway in East Hampton. According to Newsday, while ambulances were called to the scene, an East Hampton Village police spokeswoman said the injuries were “just minor” and did not disclose who caused the accident.
It ain’t easy being the “king of the world.”