From Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s chaotic yet captivating trial to, more recently, Gwyneth Paltrow’s iconically petty $1 ski accident-related win, one thing is for sure: celebrity court cases have become our new favourite reality show. And, although the latest trial involving famous individuals hasn’t received as much media attention yet, we’re pretty certain this is about to change following none other than Leonardo DiCaprio’s appearance on the stand.
On Monday 3 April 2023, the Titanic actor testified in the trial of ex-Fugees rapper Pras Michel, who is being accused of receiving more than $100 million (£80 million) from Malaysian fugitive billionaire Jho Low. Low is currently wanted by authorities internationally in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, the biggest embezzlement case in history.
According to federal prosecutors, Michel was being paid to bring “secret, illegal foreign influence to bear” on US politics. The rapper is further accused of making illegal contributions to former US President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, using an illegal network of third parties paid with foreign funds.
Prosecutors also believe that Low wanted to use Michel to lobby Trump administration officials to abandon their investigation into Low’s alleged role in the 1MDB scandal. The mastermind behind the international money laundering and bribery scheme is currently at large, and believed to be hiding somewhere in China.
Meanwhile, despite his appearance in court, DiCaprio is not accused of any wrongdoing in the trial. So why did he testify in it in the first place, and what exactly are his ties to Michel?
Speaking to jurors on Monday, DiCaprio explained that he first met Michel through his infamous love for partying, at a party held in Las Vegas in 2010. From there, the actor attended “a multitude of lavish parties” on yachts and nightclubs at the rapper’s invitation, alongside other celebrities such as Miranda Kerr, Alicia Keys, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears. In fact, according to the BBC, Spears once jumped out of a cake for Michel’s birthday.
The 48-year-old heartthrob went on to describe one particularly Great Gasby-esque occasion where he and Low both attended a New Year’s Eve party in Australia, only to then be flown with other partygoers to New York City in order to celebrate New Year’s twice. So much for securing a sustainable future for our planet, huh Leo?
It should also be noted that the actor’s infamous 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street (which, ironically, is about another major fraudster), was partially funded by a firm tied to Low. After being asked to reveal what he knew about the financier-turned-fugitive, DiCaprio said: “I understood him to be a huge businessman with many connections. He was a prodigy in the business world and ultra-successful.”
According to FBI documents from when the actor was first questioned about his ties with the Malaysian fraudster in 2019, Low affectionately called him “L-Dogg.” Furthermore, among other lavish presents, Low had reportedly previously gifted the actor a $3.2 million Pablo Picasso painting and a $9 million Jean-Michel Basquiat collage, which DiCaprio ultimately handed over to the US authorities in 2017.
On Monday, the actor said that Low also actively participated in auctions held by DiCaprio in St Tropez “to bring in funds” for his environmentally-focused foundation. DiCaprio explained that the two men began discussing US politics later in their relationship, with Low expressing an interest in making a “significant contribution” of between $20 million and $30 million to the Democratic party ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
“I basically said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money’,” DiCaprio stated. Authorities believe those funds were embezzled from 1MDB.
But DiCaprio wasn’t even the only celebrity to be interviewed by the FBI in connection to Low. According to the report, Kim Kardashian was also questioned by authorities, who recalled that she once stayed up till 5 am in a Las Vegas casino with Low.
Often talking in a soft-spoken manner during Michel’s trial—to be honest, we’d probably do the same if we were in his position—DiCaprio was asked to “keep his voice up” by US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly more than once.
As for Michel’s role in this case, the Oscar-winner did not accuse him of wrongdoing in his testimony, instead sharing that he first met the rapper in the 90s following a Fugees concert and saw him later on at some parties.
DiCaprio aside, it’s rumoured that other celebrities might be asked to testify in Michel’s trial, including actors Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Mark Wahlberg, in addition to director Martin Scorsese, as stated by CNN.
On Thursday 16 February 2023, an anonymous source “close” to Titanic actor and renowned heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, told the Daily Mail that he’s currently single, looking for something “more mature,” and wants to “ditch” his current image. According to the tabloid, the 48-year-old had shared with the alleged source that he had enough of people suggesting that he is always seeking out very young women.
“He is looking for something more mature in the relationship department. It is just ridiculous because he cannot go anywhere without being linked to the youngest beautiful woman there. He wants to ditch this image once and for all and he is really bothered that this continues to follow him,” the anonymous tipper told the Daily Mail.
Whether or not these claims surrounding DiCaprio’s feelings about his infamous dating history and who he plans on being linked to next are true, this latest update in the constant whirlwind that is the actor’s love life has surprised more than one to say the least.
If you’re not sure what I’m getting at here and have somehow been living under a rock for all these years, let me catch you up. Rumour has it that the actor simply never dates women aged 27 or older—or at least that was the claim most netizens believed up until DiCaprio reportedly started dating 27-year-old model Gigi Hadid following his recent breakup with long-term girlfriend Camila Morrone just months after she turned 25.
DiCaprio’s potential redeeming through his association with Hadid was short-lived however, because he was soon spotted out and about with 19-year-old Eden Polani. For a number of years now, a graph that demonstrates the ages of the actor’s previous girlfriends has been circulating online.
Aside from Morrone, he dated Bar Refaeli until 2010, the year she turned 25. DiCaprio also briefly dated Kelly Rohrbach in 2015, the year she turned 25, and then Nina Agdal from 2016 until 2017—also the year she celebrated her 25th birthday. You get the gist.
All that being said, no one has been able to explain (even as a theory) exactly why we’ve been seeing this pattern in the 90s icon’s choice in partners. Well, up until now, that is…
Introducing TikToker @Shani.Alexis (real name Shani Belshaw) who, since posting a video explaining her very own theory as to why DiCaprio can’t date anyone over 27, has gone viral on the app. According to the journalism student, “maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is kind of messed up in the head, especially when it comes to his sexual partners and who he’s attracted to” because of his past relationship as a teenager with actor and producer Brian Peck, who was convicted of a lewd act against a child and oral copulation of a person under 16 in 2004.
According to the Daily Mail—yep, them again—and as mentioned in Belshaw’s video, Peck is a convicted child sex offender “who used his movie industry role to abuse a Nickelodeon star, and who astonishingly is not banned from working with children.”
In court documents obtained by the British tabloid, the victim is only named as John Doe to protect his identity. Peck had allegedly been coaching the victim in acting at his home when the offences happened and was only arrested after the budding actor’s parents reported him to police.
The documents show Peck was originally charged with 11 counts including: lewd act upon a child, sodomy of a person under 16, attempted sodomy of a person under 16, sexual penetration by foreign object, four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16, oral copulation by anaesthesia or controlled substance, sending harmful matter, and using a minor for sex acts.
Peck pleaded ‘no contest’ to two counts (lewd act against a child and oral copulation) and the court found him guilty of both. The remaining counts were dismissed. Peck is now reportedly back working in the movie industry.
Belshaw uses this information in her own theory about DiCaprio’s relationship with the producer, who he worked with on the American television sitcom Growing Pains in which the young actor joined the seventh and final season (from 1991 to 1992) to play a homeless teen named Luke Brower.
In some behind-the-scenes footage from the show which first made waves online back in 2014 when it was featured in An Open Secret, Amy J. Berg’s documentary film exposing child sexual abuse in the film industry in California, DiCaprio can be seen joking around with Peck as the latter describes him as “the latest, hottest, hunkiest teen idol there is.”
Though Belshaw doesn’t explicitly say it in the clip which has since gone viral on TikTok, she seems to suggest that DiCaprio’s current affinity for younger women might be a sign of him being a victim of child abuse at the hands of Peck. “This is opinion, not fact,” the content creator goes on to state in the video.