Does life imitate art, or art life? This is one of the deeper questions to arise from the ever-expanding 1MDB scandal in Malaysia, where in late July the US Department of Justice moved to seize $1 billion in assets as part of its anti-money laundering investigation into the sovereign fund.
There have been whispers about where this money ended up for more than a year; the court papers filed by US attorney general Loretta Lynch give the clearest answer yet.
Assets allegedly purchased with 1MDB funds include a huge duplex in the Park Laurel condominium overlooking New York’s central park, a walled mansion in Beverly Hills and a private jet. Lynch also alleges that funds defrauded from the Malaysian people were used to pay for gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos.
But among the van Goghs and Monets, are the rights to the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Wolf of Wall Street, which, it is alleged, was financed with funds siphoned from 1MDB. That film, readers will recall, involves a banker setting up a questionable entity that ends up being investigated by the FBI, which sounds strangely familiar.