1MDB scandal superyacht proposed as alternative Malaysian pavilion for Dubai Expo
No-To-Scale has imagined installing a superyacht connected to the 1MDB embezzling scandal as a provocative alternative Malaysian pavilion for the Dubai Expo 2020.
The Malaysian design office has proposed dry docking Equanimity, the 91-metre superyacht once owned by Malaysian fugitive Jho Low, at the Dubai Expo 2020.
Low has been charged with money laundering billions of dollars stolen by the former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
Razak is accused of siphoning money from his government to his personal bank accounts by transferring it through 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad), a government-run development company.
While advising Razak, Low is accused by the US of transferring $4.5 billion (£3.6 billion) from the fund to his personal account.
The pavilion proposal is intended "to materialise the complex issue" of the ongoing political scandal by visualising the spoils of the stolen cash.
"This proposal is to give insight to visitors on the absurdity of such an amount of money," said No-To-Scale.
The $130 million (£104 million) Equanimity was one of the assets allegedly bought by Low with the misappropriated funds, along with a private jet, jewellery and paintings.
No-To-Scale has visualised taking Equanamity, which is luxuriously decked out with a helipad, beauty salon, pool and onboard art gallery, to the Dubai Expo 2020 and filling it with some of artworks and objects Low allegedly purchased with his ill-gotten gains.
"We wish to re-frame and question how issues of corruption and embezzlement can be represented visually to make sense of the huge amount that was lost and turning it into tangible items that are more relatable to the public," said the design office.
"It will flip a financial and political fiasco into a theatrical spectacle."
Suggested pieces include paintings by Basquiat and Monet, along with a $3.2 million (£2.6 million) Picasso that Low gave to actor Leonardo DiCaprio and a transparent grand piano he gifted to supermodel Miranda Kerr. Kerr and DiCaprio have since returned the items in question.
Bringing a story of scandal and corruption to the Dubai Expo 2020 would also ask questions of the World Expo model, said No-To-Scale.
"Structures are erected and are often left unused post-expo event," they said. "In a world fraught with issues of resource depletion and climate crisis, is this model still sustainable?"
The real Equanimity was seized by the Indonesian authorities on the orders of the US Department of Justice and taken to Kuula Lumpur, where it was renamed and auctioned off for $126 million (£101 million) to recover some of the missing 1MDB money.
Renamed Tranquility, it is available to rent at a rate of $1.25 million (£1 million) a week and was used by billionaire Kylie Jenner to celebrate her 22nd birthday.
"If nothing else, having a superyacht among a sea of other structural shapes at the Dubai Expo 2020 will surely make it into a memorable pavilion," said No-To-Scale.
The design office stressed that its proposal was not endorsed by the Malaysian government, with design of the official Malaysian pavilion yet to be released.
Sustainability is a strong theme for the Dubai Expo 2020, which runs from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021 and will welcome an estimated 25 million visitors. The Dutch pavilion will be a plant tower with its own microclimate, and a "tropical oasis" with plant-covered walls has been unveiled as the design for the Singapore pavilion.
No-To-Scale Studio has previously proposed building a 1,954-mile-long dinner table as an alternative border wall between the US and Mexico.