Art market news
Art market news
Art market news

Malaysian collector Jho Low embroiled in US department of justice investigation

by Anny Shaw  |  1 September 2016
Malaysian collector Jho Low embroiled in US department of justice investigation
Jho Low has had works by Van Gogh and Monet seized as part of the probe (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
The Malaysian financier and art collector Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, has been drawn into an investigation over an alleged money laundering scheme that diverted $3.5bn from public funds in Malaysia to spend on lavish properties in New York and Los Angeles, a $35m private jet and $200m worth of art. The details were revealed in a civil complaint filed on 20 July by the US department of justice, which is seeking to recover more than $1bn in assets that were allegedly stolen and laundered through the US and elsewhere, including a stake in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a corrupt stockbroker. As part of the US-led probe, Swiss authorities have already seized a drawing by Vincent van Gogh, La Maison de Vincent à Arles (1888), as well as two paintings by Claude Monet, Saint-Georges Majeur au Crépuscule (1908-12) and Nymphéas avec Reflets de Hautes Herbes (1914-17). The works, which are owned by Low, are worth $5.5m, $35m and $57.5m respectively, according to the US department of justice. Those named in the civil suit have not been charged with any crimes; the purpose of the complaint is to trace the money allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a public fund established by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, in 2009. Low could not be reached for comment. 1MDB and Najib have denied any wrongdoing and say they will fully co-operate with the international investigations.

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