Fact Check

Did Leonardo DiCaprio Donate $10M to Ukraine via International Visegrad Fund?

This rumor just doesn't add up.

Published Mar 9, 2022

Updated Mar 9, 2022
 (Wikipedia)
Image Via Wikipedia
Claim:
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio donated $10 million to the International Visegrad Fund to aide Ukraine following Russia's invasion of the country in February 2022.
Context

Rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio donated $10 million to the International Visegrad Fund are not true. A spokesperson for the actor, however, said that DiCaprio has privately made several donations to various humanitarian groups in an effort to aid the people of Ukraine.

In March 2022, a rumor started circulating online that actor Leonardo DiCaprio had donated $10 million to Ukraine after the country was invaded by Russia. While this claim was repeated ad nauseam across social media, there's little evidence to suggest that it's true. In an article that has since been deleted, the Daily Mail reported:

Hollywood megastar Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $10million (£7.6million) to a fund for Ukraine, where his grandmother was born in 1915.

The actor was reportedly very close with his grandmother - Helene Indenbirken - and would take her to premiers of many of his films. DiCaprio would call her 'Oma'.

The donation from the 47-year-old was announced by the International Visegrad Fund, according to Polish News.

The Multiple Problems with This Rumor

For starters, neither Leonardo DiCaprio nor the International Visegrad Fund (IVF) have made any announcements about this alleged donation. We searched the social media profiles and websites for both the actor and the IVF, an international donor organization that finances grants and scholarships to encourage the "advancement of innovative ideas in Central and Eastern Europe," and found no mention of this alleged donation. 

Furthermore, this rumor can't be traced back to a reputable news source. While most articles about this alleged donation quoted a report from a website called "Polish News," that March 7 article is not the primary source for this rumor. The earliest iteration of this claim that we could find was published on guyanasouthamerica.gy on March 5, 2022. That article cited anonymous "sources" inside Ukraine:

Sources inside Ukraine today, 5th of May, 2022, disclosed that Hollywood superstar, famed for his role in the hit movie “Titanic,” Leonardo DiCaprio, has transferred ten million US dollars to the Ukrainian government as the war rages on between Russia and Ukraine. Presumably, the huge donation is meant to support the war efforts as well as humanitarian efforts within the country.

This original report states that DiCaprio donated money directly to the Ukrainian government. This simply doesn't seem feasible, especially without any statements from the Ukrainian government. (We checked. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has not mentioned any multi-million dollar donations from DiCaprio.)

International Visegrad Fund Unaware Of DiCaprio Donations

The claim that this money was donated to the International Visegrad Fund appears to come from people making big assumptions based on little information. On March 6, a day after the anonymously sourced guyanasouthamerica.gy article was published, the Twitter account Visegrad 24 picked up on the story and published the following tweet. (Visegrad 24 previously shared a false rumor that Pornhub was blocking Russian users from accessing its site).

This tweet does not claim that DiCaprio donated money to the International Visegrad Fund. Rather, it says that the money was "donated to Ukraine." It seems likely that people saw this tweet, connected Visegrad 24 to the International Visegrad Fund, and assumed that this is where DiCaprio's alleged donation went. 

A spokesperson for the International Visegrad Fund told us that they were unaware of any such donation from DiCaprio: "We are not aware, neither do we have any information about Leonardo DiCaprio donating USD 10 million/£7.6 million to Ukraine. International Visegrad Fund has not announced this information."

While DiCaprio did not donate $10 million to this fund, the spokesperson did say that prime ministers from V4 countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) agreed on a "support package of 1 million euros to help Ukraine via the International Visegrad Fund." The spokesperson said:

I can, however, inform you that the V4 Prime Ministers met in London on 8 March 2022 where they agreed on a support package of 1 million euros to help Ukraine via the International Visegrad Fund. An extraordinary call for applications will be shortly available to NGOs, organisations, and municipalities from the V4 countries and Ukraine with a focus on improving the situation of refugees from Ukraine.

Has DiCaprio Donated to Ukraine?

While the rumors that DiCaprio donated $10 million to the Ukraine military or the International Visegrad Fund are untrue, the actor really has made a few private donations of unknown amounts to various humanitarian organizations working in Ukraine. 

People Magazine reported:

Previous reports claiming the actor had donated $10 million for Ukrainian military use and that DiCaprio has family ties to Ukraine are not true.

"Leo had privately made several donations to humanitarian groups — CARE, IRC, UNHCR and Save the Children. All directed at Ukraine," a source close to the Don't Look Up actor tells PEOPLE. "He had been watching things unfold and wanted to support Ukraine the best he could. He will continue to support the humanitarian groups on the ground which are helping the people of Ukraine."


Sources:

Dickler, Jessica. “Here’s a List of the Top-Rated Charities to Help the Ukraine Relief Effort.” CNBC, 9 Mar. 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/09/heres-a-list-of-top-rated-charities-to-help-the-ukraine-relief-effort.html.

Examiner, Luke Gentile, Washington. “Leonardo DiCaprio Donates $10 Million to Ukraine.” Colorado Springs Gazette, https://gazette.com/news/leonardo-dicaprio-donates-10-million-to-ukraine/article_b1faacaa-b309-587c-8905-19f046619474.html. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.

“Leonardo DiCaprio Donates $10 Million to Ukraine.” Washington Examiner, 9 Mar. 2022, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/leonardo-dicaprio-donates-10-million-to-ukraine.

Leonardo DiCaprio Donates $10MILLION to Fund for Ukraine - His Grandmother’s Homeland  | Daily Mail Online. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10593687/Leonardo-DiCaprio-donates-10MILLION-fund-Ukraine-grandmothers-homeland.html. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.

REPORT: Leonardo DiCaprio Donates $10 Million To Help Ukraine. https://dailycaller.com/2022/03/09/report-leonardo-dicaprio-donation-10-million-ukraine-russia/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.

 

Updates

Updated [9 March 2022]: Article updated with statement from DiCaprio's spokesperson about the actor's genuine donations to Ukraine.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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