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Leonardo DiCaprio presents the award for best actress in a leading role at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

US makes move to seize Leonardo DiCaprio's Picasso painting bought with 'stolen' funds


U.S. authorities acted on Thursday to seize a Picasso painting given to actor Leonardo DiCaprio among other stolen assets, including the the rights to two Hollywood comedies.

The Justice Department filed complaints to recover more than 1.7 billion in claims they say was stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad sovereign wealth fund.

A spokesman for DiCaprio on Thursday said that the actor had recently begun proceedings to transfer ownership of the Picasso to the U.S. government.

Authorities claim a Malaysian financier gifted a $3.2 million Picasso painting to DiCaprio for his birthday.

"Dear Leonardo DiCaprio, Happy belated Birthday! This gift is for you," a friend of Malaysian financier, Jho Low, wrote in a note.

The spokesman said that DiCaprio had accepted several gifts, which included funding for his 2013 film "The Wolf of Wall Street," to raise money for his environmental foundation.

DiCaprio has not been accused of any crime.

"This week's activity from the DOJ is a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case," Low said via an emailed statement to Reuters.

Fraud allegations against 1MDB go back to 2009, the Justice Department said, and the fund is subject to money laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland and Singapore.

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