Late actor Marlon Brando’s Oscar statuette for ‘On the Waterfront’ — given as a gift to Leonardo DiCaprio by his scandal-plagued friends at Red Granite Pictures has been recovered.
Almost 20 years after his first best actor nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio was starting to look disconcertingly like the Susan Lucci of the Academy Awards. But in November 2012 — perhaps as a thoughtful nod to the fact that he’d yet to win an Oscar despite three nominations, but was widely considered to be deserving of one — he received Marlon Brando’s best actor statuette for 1954’s On the Waterfront as a 38th birthday gift.
The gifters were his friends and business associates at Red Granite Pictures, the primary backers behind The Wolf of Wall Street, which had begun shooting that August.
As it happens, he’d be nominated and ultimately lose again for his starring role in the Martin Scorsese film about financial corruption, which DiCaprio also produced, before finally being redeemed this year with The Revenant.
Meanwhile, Red Granite’s co-founder Riza Aziz and purported financier Jho Low would go on to become central figures in a $3 billion Malaysian embezzlement scandal that has rocked the country, implicated Prime Minister Najib Razak and triggered an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice asset-seizure investigation.
The scandal also has drawn attention to DiCaprio’s personal and professional ties to the pair, 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.
Marlon Brando’s Oscar was reportedly acquired in the fall of 2012 for approximately $600,000 through a New Jersey memorabilia dealer. It has been learned this person is Ralph DeLuca, whom DiCaprio previously had developed a relationship with due to their mutual interest in DeLuca’s specialty: vintage movie posters.
An Oscar bylaw, bolstered by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in 1991 that was affirmed again in 2015, forbids post-1951 honourees or anyone who inherits a statuette to peddle it in any way without first offering it back to the Academy for $10.
But regardless of whether DiCaprio’s birthday gift — which he has proudly displayed on the mantel at his Hollywood Hills home — violates Academy policy, the On the Waterfront statuette has other baggage. Brando has never sold his award; rather, it simply went missing.