|Brando with his On The Waterfront Oscar|
Although the actor deservedly won a best actor Oscar last year for his role in The Revenant, in 2012 he was given one as a gift by his friends and business associates at the scandal-ridden Red Granite Pictures, who put up most of the money for his The Wolf of Wall Street.
The big mystery is how the Oscar, which was won by Marlon Brando for 1954's On The Waterfront, disappeared from Brando's house and changed hands several times before ending up with DiCaprio via a memorabilia dealer in New Jersey.
|DiCaprio with his Oscar for The Revenant|
Avra Douglas, the Brando estate's executor and archivist (and the star's assistant for 14 years until his death of respiratory failure in 2004 at 80), says the award disappeared while he was alive. "He was trying to track it down and kept hitting dead ends," she said.
For years a widely circulated rumour was that, in a fit of anger, Brando tossed the statuette out his window, after which his then-young son Christian took it up to his treehouse and, toying with it like a hammer, broke its base. Douglas calls this "undoubtedly hogwash," saying that the late Christian — who later served time in prison for manslaughter — "never had a treehouse."
What is certain is that the statuette circulated among private enthusiasts, at one point being sold by an auctioneer out of a storefront just off Hollywood Boulevard for $13,500 on behalf of a collector in Maine. Its whereabouts were unknown until it was reportedly acquired by Red Granite representatives in 2012 from a New Jersey dealer for $600,000 and was given to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Meanwhile, two of Red Granite's executives have 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 a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund to enrich themselves and advance their own global business interests.
DiCaprio, who is busy promoting his climate change documentary Before the Flood, has so far not commented on the controversy or said whether he intends to return the Oscar either to Brando's estate or the Academy.