How much money was filmed "The Wolf of Wall Street": Investigation of the Wall Street Journal

Published on May 04, 2016

How much money was filmed "The Wolf of Wall Street": Investigation of the Wall Street Journal

    Martin Scorsese's painting “The Wolf from Wall Street” (2013) collected about $ 400 million worldwide and received five honorary nominations from the American Film Academy. The history of the rise of a stock broker who not only earned big money, but also cheerfully burned his life, attracted the attention of not only critics and spectators, but also professional journalists. The Wall Street Journal became interested in the financing scheme for a Hollywood hit and found interesting details.

    While there is a relative lull on world markets , we retell the main facts of the WSJ investigation.

    Long way to the screens

    Despite the worldwide fame and personal charm of Leonardo DiCaprio and the influence of director Martin Scorsese, it took 6 years for the work on “The Wolf from Wall Street” to finally begin. Movie studios did not want to invest in a risky project - the scandalous picture received an American R rating (for an audience of 17+, adolescents are allowed to be viewed only with their parents) due to the presence of “immoral” scenes. Help unexpectedly came from the obscure film company Red Granite Pictures, which provided the filmmakers with more than one hundred million dollars - the long-awaited amount needed to work on full sex and drug history about the stock trader Jordan Belfort.

    Currently, journalists believe that most of the money for shooting was obtained from the fundMalaysia’s state of economic development — and supposedly funding a Hollywood hit is by no means the only dubious investment by Malaysian fund managers.

    Doubtful source

    The notorious foundation 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (Or, in abbreviation, 1MDB) was established seven years ago by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak . The adopted son of a politician, Reese Aziz, runs the film company Red Granite Pictures. Now the 1MDB fund has $ 11 billion of debt and is under the scrutiny of the investigating authorities - both in Malaysia and abroad - due to the illegal use of funds.

    Investigators believe that $ 155 million were withdrawn from the 1MDB fund through offshore financial institutions, and then turned into assets of Red Granite Pictures - the very sponsor of the filming of "The Wolf of Wall Street."

    "The company is ready to answer all questions and cooperate fully with investigators," a spokesman for Red Granite Pictures, headquartered in West Hollywood, California, told reporters. The film company employee also noted that there is no reason to suspect the organization of illegally obtaining financial resources. The 1MDB Foundation and the press service of the Najib Razak left questions about Red Granite Pictures unanswered. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are also not in a hurry to comment on the assumptions of the investigators.

    The history of the "sponsor"

    Reese Aziz, Joey McFarland and Joe Low. Photo: MATTEO PRANDONI / BFA

    The Red Granite Pictures film company was founded in 2010 by the stepchild of Malaysian Prime Minister Riza Aziz and a Kentucky businessman Christopher MacFarland.

    Reese Aziz worked in the financial sector in London, then went on a journey and eventually ended up in the United States. Joe Lowe, a Malaysian financier from Malaysia studying in the UK, introduced him to MacFarland, an investor who moved to Hollywood to do filmmaking. Newly-minted film moguls opened an office on Sunset Boulevard, and subsequently filled it with Hollywood relics. For example, they purchased the original advertising poster of the science fiction film "Metropolis" in 1927 for $ 1 million.

    In 2011, Red Granite Pictures declared itself by rolling a fabulously expensive beach party at the Cannes Film Festival. The guests were Kanye West and Farrell Williams. A few months later, the first film of the company was released - the comedy Friends With Kids (in the domestic version - “ Children are not a hindrance to sex ”) with Kristen Uig and Adam Scott in the lead roles.

    In 2012, McFarland and Aziz turned their attention to the screenplay of the film “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Malaysian financier Joe Lowe again became the key to communication: he personally knew Leonardo DiCaprio and introduced him to the owners of Red Granite Pictures. DiCaprio was extremely the role of financial magnate Jordan Belfort, who was imprisoned for exchange manipulation. However, neither the Hollywood actor nor the film director could find a film studio willing to spend a lot of money on shooting a potentially outrageous picture for the public. Red Granite Pictures decided to take risks. Filming began in August 2012.

    Two years after completing work on Wolf from Wall Street, in an interview with the New York Times, Reese Aziz called the main investor of his company a businessman from Abu Dhabi named Mohamed Ahmed Badawi Al-Husseini. "We do not use Malaysian money," he stressed, revealing the sources of financing for the film company. However, the aforementioned Aziz Mohamed Al Husseini turned out to be an American citizen and head of the financial organization Aabar Investments PJS, a division of the sovereign insurance fund of Abu Dhabi known as IPIC. IPIC had “common affairs” with the Malaysian 1MDB, for example, provided part of the fund's bonds.

    The 1MDB fund managers reported that in 2012, $ 1.4 billion was transferred to Aabar Investments PJS as collateral. Investigators believe that the money went to an identically named offshore company, organized with the help of Al-Husseini in the British Virgin Islands. $ 155 million of them subsequently “spilled over” to Red Granite Pictures. The documents found recorded three tranches of $ 60 million, $ 45 million and $ 50 million in 2012, directed under the guise of loans from fake Aabar Investments PJS Ltd on the Virgin Islands. Representatives of Red Granite Pictures claim that their company continues to pay funds to the lender, but investigators are well aware that it is no longer there: Aabar Investments PJS Ltd was liquidated last June.


    On his thirty-seventh birthday, Leonardo DiCaprio received as a gift from the managers of the company “a pleasant souvenir” - the Oscar statuette, which in 1955 was awarded to Marlon Brando. According to rumors, it cost $ 600,000 to Red Granite Pictures.

    On December 31, 2012, when filming "The Wolf from Wall Street" came to an end, some of the actors celebrated the New Year in Australia with the leadership of Red Granite Pictures. According to eyewitnesses, among the celebrants were Reese Aziz and Joe Lowe, movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and John Hill, as well as singer and actor Jamie Foxx.

    The success of "The Wolf from Wall Street" strengthened the position of Red Granite Pictures in Hollywood. While investigators figured out whether the film company was involved in illegal financial transactions, Aziz and McFarland worked on the continuation of the comedy "Dumb and Dumber , and Daddy's Home , starring Will Will Ferell and Mark Wahlberg.

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