For a long time, it was a mystery how Jho Low – a rather unassuming Malaysian businessman – became ingratiated with some of the biggest names in showbusiness.
However, when it was revealed that he was lavishing them with gifts, funding their projects and inviting them to Great Gatsby-esque parties across the globe, it became easier to understand why stars kept him around.
Instead, the mystery became how it was that Low could afford his free-spending lifestyle. There was one answer to this question, too: the embezzlement of 1MDB.
Several pictures captured Low rubbing shoulders with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Alicia Keys and Paris Hilton – suggesting that despite often looking out of his depth, he had a knack for making friends in high places.
The suit-wearing 41-year-old was educated at Harrow, one of England’s most exclusive public schools, and he showered movie stars, models and singers with gifts beyond imagining for anyone who doesn’t have access to billions of pounds.
For a long time, questions have hung over how Jho Low (pictured) – a rather stumpy Malaysian businessman – became ingratiated with some of the biggest names in showbusiness. However, when it was revealed that he was lavishing them with gifts, it became easier to understand why stars kept him around
For Australian beauty Miranda Kerr – understood to have been in a relationship with Low in 2014 – he splashed £6 million on jewellery and a crystal piano.
He also once told Kim Kardashian that she could keep his £200,000 casino winnings, and paid £800,000 to Britney Spears to jump out of his birthday cake.
Tales have also told of a single night in St Tropez where Low spent £1.5 million on Champagne, and of another occasion when he flew stars from a New Years Eve party in Australia to another in Las Vegas.
Perhaps his most notable associate was Leonardo DiCaprio – one of Hollywood’s biggest and most recognisable stars.
Low’s film production firm funded the actor’s 2013 box office hit The Wolf Of Wall Street, and he purchased a $30 million mansion close to DiCaprio’s in Hollywood.
He also gifted DiCaprio a £2.5 million Picasso painting and invited him to several parties.
However, Low’s high-flying world came crashing down around him in October 2016 when Interpol published a red notice at Singapore’s request to locate and arrest him.
He has since been charged in Malaysia and the United States for allegedly masterminding the theft of $4.5 billion from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and is an international fugitive.
He has consistently denied wrongdoing.
It was with this money, authorities say, that he purchased the extravagant gifts for the likes of Kerr and DiCaprio, bought properties and paid for debauched parties.
Now, a new documentary titled Man On The Run – set to be released in cinemas next Friday – has delved into his fraud.
The documentary is the culmination of years of digging into Low and his associates by British investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown and America’s FBI, and has uncovered Low’s trail of corruption that added to Malaysia’s crippling debt.
Perhaps his most notable associate was Leonardo DiCaprio – one of Hollywood’s biggest and most recognisable stars. Low’s film production firm funded the actor’s 2013 box office hit The Wolf Of Wall Street. The pair are picture together attending the film’s world premier
In 2013, Low was snapped posing with Alicia Keys on a red carpet (pictured), on the way in to a charity ball in New York City
A Malaysian-Chinese born on the island of Penang whose grandfather was from southern China’s Guangdong, Low once described himself on his website as a ‘global investor and philanthropist’ with experience in many companies, financings and projects in media, entertainment, retailing, hospitality and real estate.
Educated at Harrow, the elite British prep school, and later at Wharton, his family is said to have made its fortune in mining, trading and garment manufacturing.
While at Harrow, he became friends with Riza Aziz, stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who set up 1MDB to support the country’s economy.
But Najib was ousted in an election upset in 2018 after former leader Mahathir Mohamad, outraged by the scandal, came out of political retirement.
Mahathir reopened a probe into the 1MDB fund, and Najib is currently serving a 12 year prison sentence over his involvement. The Fugees rapper Pras Michel and two Goldman Sachs bankers have also been jailed over the 1MDB scandal.
However, the whereabouts of Low – who went on the run – remains unknown.
Malaysian authorities have previously said Low was believed to be in China, though Beijing has denied it. Others have suggested he is somewhere in the Middle East.
It means that to this day, he has not faced justice for the fraud.
For Australian beauty Miranda Kerr – understood to have been in a relationship with Low in 2014 – he splashed £6 million on jewellery and a crystal piano
While authorities seized millions of dollars and gifts handed out by Low, they were unable to get Kerr’s crystal piano (similar model pictured) as it was too large to remove from its room
Low first gained the attention of the public eye in 2009, the same year 1MDB was founded, when it was reported how he had sent 23 bottles of Champagne to Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan who was celebrating her 23rd birthday.
A year later, socialite Paris Hilton was seen sunbathing on his yacht in France, and in 2011 he invited stars including Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Jay-Z to a Beverly Hills party.
Documents recently released by the FBI also show that he once gave Kim Kardashian £83,000 to spend on fireworks, and how her ex-husband Kanye West was on the guest list to his 30th birthday party in Las Vegas in 2012.
A year later, he was snapped posing with Alicia Keys on a red carpet, on the way in to a charity ball in New York City.
But speaking to The Sun ahead of the release of the documentary, Rewcastle Brown says what caught her eye was Low’s involvement in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf Of Wall Street – a movie that is itself about financial fraud.
It was Low and Aziz’s Red Granite Pictures which released the film.
The reporter suspected the pair were getting the funds from 1MDB, which at the time was rumoured to be in deep debt.
‘I was waging a Twitter war with Leonardo DiCaprio from the launch of the movie, saying, ‘You better know there is suspicion about the money behind your movie’,’ Rewcastle Brown tells The Sun.
Instead, she was threatened with legal action and DiCaprio thanked Low in his Golden Globe speech when accepting the best actor award for his role in the film.
Despite the threats, Rewcastle Brown persisted with her reporting.
This made her even more enemies, with Malaysia attempting to have her placed on the Interpol Red Notice list for the ‘terrorism’ of her journalism.
Thankfully, the international body refused.
Rewcastle Brown tells The Sun that she was also followed by private detectives and was even warned that her life was in danger.
Others were also targeted.
In the documentary, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, 76, and whistle-blower Xavier Justo, 55, a Swiss banker, say they were jailed for exposing Low.
Gigi Hadid (right) and Jho Low (centre) attend Angel Ball 2014 hosted by Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City
Jho Low and the rapper Ludacris attend Angel Ball 2014
Low is seen with socialite Paris Hilton in 2010. Hilton was also once seen sunbathing on his yacht in France, and partying with him on a number of occasions
Eventually, Low’s extravagance caught up with him. In 2016, US special agents filed a civil lawsuit in a bid to reclaim billions stolen from the 1MDB fund.
They revealed £250 million had been spent on a yacht, £30 million on works of art, and £4 million on diamonds for Razak’s wife.
The Department of Justice also traced $100 million from a deal with PetroSaudi to the purchase of properties in Hollywood, and $40 million to apartments in New York.
DiCaprio is reported to have returned the Picasso he was gifted by Low, as well as a Basquiat painting worth £7 million, while Kerr returned the jewellery.
As for the Piano, Rewcastle Brown says the supermodel had built a room around the gift, and so it could not be removed.
She was told she could keep it, the reporter tells The Sun.
The DoJ is also understood to have seized royalties from the Wolf Of Wall Street, as well as two other films Red Granite Pictures helped finance.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by any of the celebrities linked to Low.
Pictured: Picasso’s Nature Morte au Crâne de Taureau (Still Life With Bull’s Head), which Low is understood to have gifted to Leonardo DiCaprio. The actor later surrendered the painting
It is now believed that Low was using his associations with big-name celebrities to help strike deals across the globe. Investigators have linked him to deals with China, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
In a trial this year of Fugees star Michel, he revealed that Low was also trying to influence politics in America, particularly related to the president.
Michel was accused of funnelling money from a now-fugitive Malaysian financier through straw donors to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, then trying to squelch a Justice Department investigation and influence an extradition case on behalf of China under the Trump administration.
In May, a jury in Washington DC, found him guilty of all 10 counts, including conspiracy and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.
Michel testified in his own defence. He said Low wanted a picture with Obama in 2012 and was willing to pay millions of dollars to get it.
Michel agreed to help and used some of the money he got to pay for friends to attend fundraising events. No one had ever told him that was illegal, he said.
DiCaprio, a former friend of Michel’s, gave evidence on behalf of prosecutors.
The rapper is currently awaiting sentencing.
Meanwhile, Malaysian former prime minister Razak is serving 12 years in jail. He nevertheless pins all the blame on Low, telling the upcoming documentary: ‘I trusted in the wrong people but the system failed me.’
As for the charges against Razak’s stepson and Low’s former associate Aziz, Malaysian prosecutors dropped them in May 2020 after reaching a settlement.
Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng was sentenced to ten years in prison in March, and his colleague Tim Leissner is awaiting sentencing.
But while those accused of helping Low suffer the consequences, the supposed mastermind behind the fraud remains on the run.
Reports suggest that Low fled to Antarctica on his yacht after he was first linked to the 1MDB fraud by US officials, and in 2019 some say he was spotted in Shanghai.
He has been rumoured to be in other locations including the United Arab Emirates.
Indonesian officials prepare to board the luxury yacht ‘Equanimity’, reportedly worth some 250 million USD and owned by Jho Low
Whether he will ever be brought to justice, remains to be seen.
Rewcastle Brown believes he may never be caught.
‘I’m very sceptical Jho Low is still with us,’ she told The Sun.
‘He has so much toxic information about deals with China, and they can’t have him going to a Western court room to spill all this,’ she said.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.