This is the wild story of how one con-man managed to infiltrate Leonardo DiCaprio's inner circle
All of us have, at one point or another, dreamt of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. Cocktails with Taylor and her squad of gal pals, trading a little friendly banter with Ryan and Blake, asking JB how his nuptials with Hailey went, it all sounds pretty great.
We all know that, at the end of the day, we'll never get to do any of this. However, one con-man gave all of us hope when he managed to infiltrate Leonardo DiCaprio's sacred inner circle. Amazingly, all it took was a few months, billions of stolen money, and an unending amount of bribery. You up for replicating it? ...what do you mean "no?"
A new book called Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World, describes how Low Taek Jho - otherwise known as Jho Low - allegedly gained access to the Great Gatsby actor's friendship group, afterwards leaving him at the centre of one of the biggest fraud cases in U.S. history. All in all, it's a pretty wild story.
It all started when Malaysian financier Hollywood wannabe allegedly decided to steal billions from a state fund intended to develop the country. The US Justice Department reportedly claims he took $4.5 billion from a Malaysian development fund and used it to fund his "tabloid party boy" lifestyle.
After thieving the eye-watering amount of cash, Low began splashing out in order to make celebrity friends. Jamie Foxx and Paris Hilton - who he allegedly paid $100,000 to appear at the lavish parties he'd throw for celebs - were among those drawn in by his seemingly bottomless pockets, and he reportedly dated Miranda Kerr, gifting the model with $8 worth of jewellery by the end of their relationship.
However, Leonarda DiCaprio was allegedly his key target in this story of fraud. Apparently, the Hong Kong native - who came from a wealthy family who were "definitely millionaires—but much poorer than the billionaire class he aspired to enter" - befriended DiCaprio through talent booker Joey McFarland, and proceeded to woo him with outrageous gifts in order to secure his friendship.
These presents included a glamorous trip to South Africa to watch the 2010 World Cup, a Basquiat painting and Marlon Brando’s Oscar for 1954’s On the Waterfront. In addition, he bought him a $3.3 million painting by Pablo Picasso as a late birthday present, a $9.2 million Jean Michel Basquiat collage named "Red Man One" and financed his 2013 film, The Wolf Of Wall Street.
However, the Malaysian businessman's deceit eventually came crumbling down around him, with his web of lies being discovered. In the wake of the scheme coming to light, all celebrities who unknowingly benefited from the stolen money had to give their gifts back. Reportedly, both Kerr and DiCaprio voluntarily surrendered the gifts and producers of The Wolf of Wall Street were forced to hand over $60 million to the US government to settle a civil lawsuit.
Low, who has been criminally indicted in Malaysia, has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and even set up a website to defend himself. On his website, he professes his innocence, writing: "Let me be clear: I am innocent. With hindsight, I may have done things differently, like any young person, but any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive allegations being made against me."
He is currently believed to be hiding out in China, with authorities in the US, Malaysia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore investigating.
I told you it was a pretty wild story...