Leonardo DiCaprio says he won’t host the event at his L.A. home due to a scheduling conflict and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have stepped in as hosts. The Clinton campaign denies the decision is connected to questions DiCaprio and his foundation are facing over ties to a $3 billion embezzlement scheme.
DiCaprio abruptly has dropped out of hosting a fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at his Hollywood Hills home, sources confirmed. The $33,400-per-guest event, part of a series of late-August fundraisers for Clinton in Los Angeles, now will be held at the nearby residence of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
On Saturday, an unidentified source close to the event has told the reason DiCaprio backed out was work-related — that his current project will keep him in New York until Wednesday. He is taking his documentary The Turning Point to the Toronto International Film Festival next month. He currently is not filming a movie as an actor.
But the move comes as DiCaprio, 41, has become linked in press reports to a $3 billion Malaysian embezzlement scandal. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an asset-seizure complaint in federal court pertaining to a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund called 1MDB. The fund allegedly backed Red Granite Pictures, the production company behind DiCaprio’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
He is mentioned only as “Hollywood Actor 1” in the complaint, but it suggests the actor’s foundation may have benefited from gifts made by Red Granite, its principal Riza Aziz and a key 1MDB figure named Jho Low.
Hillary and Bill Clinton’s own charitable foundation has been the subject of intense scrutiny during the campaign, particularly its connection to foreign money. The Clinton Foundation has said it would not accept foreign contributions if Hillary is elected president. One source with experience planning presidential fundraisers said it would be a “no brainer” to keep DiCaprio away from a Clinton event amid the 1MDB suit and press reports, but another said candidates tend to have a lower standard for vetting of celebrity fundraisers.