Controversy Surrounds Leo DiCaprio and Brando’s Oscar
Marlon Brando’s ‘On the Waterfront’ Oscar was given as a gift to Leo DiCaprio by his scandal-plagued colleagues at Red Granite Pictures, and the Motion Picture Academy refuses to discuss Leo’s misbegotten award.
Nearly 20 years after his 1st best actor nomination in November 2012 he received Marlon Brando’s Best Actor Oscar for 1954’s On the Waterfront as a 38th birthday gift.
The gifters were his business associates at Red Granite Pictures, the backers behind The Wolf of Wall Street.
As it happened, Mr. DiCaprio would be nominated and lose for his starring role in the Martin Scorsese film about financial corruption, which Mr. DiCaprio also produced, before winning this year for his role in The Revenant.
Since then, Red Granite’s co-Founder Riza Aziz and financier Jho Low would go on to become central figures in a $3-B Malaysian embezzlement scandal that rocked the country, implicated Prime Minister Najib Razak and triggered an ongoing US Department of Justice asset-seizure investigation.
The scandal also has drawn attention to Mr. DiCaprio’s personal and professional ties to the 2 men, who are alleged to have siphoned money from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, meant for in-country economic development purposes to enrich themselves and advance their own global business interests.
In August, THR examined how Mr. DiCaprio’s foundation has benefited financially from the relationship.
Marlon Brando’s Oscar is said to have been acquired in Y 2012 for approximately $600,000 through a New Jersey memorabilia dealer.
This person is Ralph DeLuca, whom Mr. DiCaprio developed a relationship with because to their mutual interest in Mr. DeLuca’s specialty: vintage movie posters.
An Oscar bylaw, bolstered by a US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Y 1991 that was affirmed again in Y 2015, forbids post-1951 honorees or anyone who inherits a statuette to peddle it in any way without 1st offering it back to the Motion Picture Academy for $10.
But regardless of whether DiCaprio’s birthday gift violates Academy policy, the On the Waterfront statuette has other intrigue in that Marlon Brando never sold his award, it just went missing.
The Brando estate’s executor/archivist, said the award disappeared while he was alive. “He was trying to track it down and kept hitting dead ends,” she says. “There was some rumor that Marty Ingels had it, but that turned out to be untrue. It would be great to get it back.”
The Hollywood lore is that Marlon Brando threw his Oscar out, after which his Christian played with it and broke its base.
The later the Oscar circulated among private enthusiasts, drawing a public rebuke from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Y 1988 when a local auctioneer sold it for $13,500 on behalf of a Maine collector.
Oscars “shouldn’t be items of commerce; it’s less than dignified,” the Academy’s then-executive administrator, told the LA-T’s.
The Academy now notes: “We have a long history of enforcing our bylaws against the sale of post-1951 Oscars, and, where possible, even those awarded pre-1951. We have on many occasions prevented the sale of Oscars and enforced the Academy’s rights to recover the statuettes.”
For those people in Malaysia, the 1MDB situation is more consequential than Brando’s long-missing Oscar.
“Billions of taxpayers’ money has been lost, and people have died,” says Pascal Najadi, who has filed a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the murder in Kuala Lumpur of his whistle-blowing banker father, Hussain. He and his mother have since relocated to Switzerland for safety. “It’s bigger than Oscar.”
Red Granite, whose next project is a remake of the Y 1973 prison-break film ‘Papillon’ starring Rami Malek and Charlie Hunnam, declined to comment, as did the DOJ, Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. DeLucca.