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Leonardo DiCaprio hands over Brando's Oscar, a Picasso and more to the U.S. government

 (Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images)
(Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images)

In November 2012, Leonardo DiCaprio — at the time, three months into filming "Wolf of Wall Street," which would later further his legacy of almost-Oscars for a fourth time — received Marlon Brando's best actor statuette for 1954's "On the Waterfront" as a 38th birthday gift. 

The gift-givers were DiCaprio's business associates (and friends) at Red Granite Pictures, the production house behind "Wolf of Wall Street." Now the 42-year-old actor has voluntarily handed over Brando's Academy Award (in addition to several other pricey souvenirs from the Red Granite team) to the U.S. government as part of an ongoing investigation into a $3.5-billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme

Authorities from the U.S. Department of Justice suspect that Red Granite co-founder Riza Aziz may have helped his stepfather, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, embezzle $4.5 billion from a political development scheme in that part of the world. A portion of those misappropriated funds were used to bankroll the production company and subsequently back "The Wolf of Wall Street."

According to last year's federal court filing, the U.S. government also believes that the laundered funds also funded "the co-conspirators' lavish lifestyles, including purchases of artwork and jewelry, the acquisition of luxury real estate and luxury yachts, the payment of gambling expenses, and the hiring of musicians and celebrities to attend parties."

The multimillion-dollar artworks in question include a Picasso painting, a photograph by Diane Arbus and a Jean-Michel Basquiat collage, which were supposedly gifted to DiCaprio by Jho Low, Red Granite's purported financier. The actor had accepted the art with the intention of auctioning off the pieces to raise money for his charitable foundation, his spokesperson said. 

DiCaprio has already given the art and the Oscar to U.S. authorities, the spokesperson said. 

And though there are no plans at this time for DiCaprio to forfeit the money he received for his work on "The Wolf of Wall Street," his spokesperson noted that the actor intends to offer the return of any "gifts or donations" under speculation with "the aid and instruction of the government." 

Updated, 9:56 p.m.: This story was updated to include details about what DiCaprio had planned to do with the art he was given.

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