Gullible Leonardo DiCaprio got sucked into one of the world’s most shocking dirty money scams — despite even the real-life Wolf of Wall Street fraudster smelling a rat.
The A-lister accepted millions of dollars in gifts from Malaysia money-launderer Jho Low and fortunes to appear at the international criminal’s parties.
It was at one of the big-money blow-outs where Jordan Belfort started to suspect it was part of an international scam.
Belfort, 56 — whose 1990s fraud crimes were the subject of 2013 flick The Wolf Of Wall Street starring DiCaprio — turned up at a lavish bash in Las Vegas to celebrate the start of the making of the film.
It was financed by Low’s dodgy company Red Granite Pictures and Belfort said it was at the bash he knew the party and project was being funded by stolen cash.
Belfort sneered about his realization: “Leo got sucked in — but I didn’t need those f—–g people. I knew this was a f—–g scam. The party cost $3 million and the movie hasn’t even been made yet. Whoever threw this has stolen the money.”
Belfort later turned down a $500,000 offer from Low to appear at another Vegas bash as he wanted to stay out of trouble after being jailed for fraud and focus on his “motivational speaking” tour.
Despite Belfort disappearing from the party circuit Low funded with the billions he siphoned off from an investment fund, DiCaprio continued to party with the crook. A chapter in Billion Dollar Whale called “An Evening With The Playmates” describes how in October 2009 Low treated DiCaprio to a parade of Playmates.
It says around 20 of the models were “nervous” as they made their way to a VIP area at the Palazzo casino as they had no idea who had hired them.
The girls — “a mix of blonde and dark-haired models” had been given instructions to “check into your room, put on a black cocktail dress and pack a bikini.”
Billion Dollar Whale describes how they were then ushered into a VIP room where “a handful of Asian men” accompanied by DiCaprio were hunched over a table playing poker.
Low passed $1,000 chips down the table which was “a signal for the party to move to a suite in the hotel” — where “burly security”’ made them hand over handbags and phones and sign non-disclosure agreements before entering.
The book adds that after more gambling: “Later, DiCaprio and Low sat on a sofa in the dark, smoking cigars and talking, as they watched three or four women dancing on the living room under disco lighting. Low then asked for some of the girls to change into bikinis and swim in a small pool on a balcony outside.”
“I think he was selecting people,” said Star Ramirez, a makeup artist who was present that evening, referring to Low. “It was weird he was there. He didn’t socialize with us.”
The book adds that even though DiCaprio’s hat was snatched off his head by one of the partygoers, the actor was “focused and distant” as he was filming Inception at the time.
The revelations about Belfort and 44-year-old DiCaprio falling for Low’s scam are made in the book Billion Dollar Whale by journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope.
It tells how in 2009 chubby, seemingly humble University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business graduate Low began a fraud of “unprecedented gall and magnitude”.
The book says: “Low, with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fund — right under the nose of global financial industry watchdogs. Low used the money to finance elections, purchase luxury real estate, throw champagne-drenched parties, and even to finance Hollywood films like The Wolf of Wall Street.
“By early 2019, with his yacht and private jet reportedly seized by authorities and facing criminal charges in Malaysia and in the US, Low had become an international fugitive, even as the US Department of Justice continued its investigation.”
Described as an “Asian Great Gatsby, Low also sucked Lady Gaga, Jamie Foxx and Pharrell into his whirlwind of fraud-funded Hollywood bashes.
Model Miranda Kerr surrendered $8 million in jewelry to U.S. authorities after being swept up in Low’s massive swindle.
The mega-money baubles were given to the former Victoria’s Secret Angel by besotted financier Low.
Actors Christian Bale, Forest Whitaker and Casey Affleck also fell for the shady financier’s scheme, who reportedly received illicit payments from a government fund set up by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Mark Wahlberg and Mad Men hunk Jon Hamm also fell for it, being targeted by the feds as they recouped stolen funds and property that were given to A-listers.
DiCaprio returned $3.2 million in artwork, including a Picasso painting given to him in 2014 by Low — along with Marlon Brando’s old Oscar statuette.