Summary of Billion Dollar Whale

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Billion Dollar Whale book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging


Jho Low is a mysterious Malaysian who burst onto the party scenes in Las Vegas and Manhattan in late 2009. Surrounded by celebrities and thinking nothing of losing $2 million at the baccarat tables, Low was impressive and confounding: Where did his money come from? In this rollicking account, Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope lay out how Low stole billions from his home country’s sovereign wealth fund. With vivid writing, they detail not just Low’s debauchery but also the complicity of international banks, which didn’t look too closely at all that suspicious money moving around the world. And the story is not over yet: At this book’s publication, Low remained at large, and the prime minister who helped him in his swindles faces public corruption charges.

About the Authors

Pulitzer Prize nominees Tom Wright and Bradley Hope are correspondents for The Wall Street Journal.


Jho Low, a Malaysian national, is alleged to have stolen billions from a sovereign wealth fund.

At the peak of his fame, Malaysian money man Jho Low projected power and oozed riches. A chubby, soft-spoken man, Low was a “whale” – Las Vegas jargon for a free-spending high-roller. He surrounded himself with celebrities, many of whom collected six-figure appearance fees to show up at his events. In the run-up to his 31st birthday celebrations in November 2012, Low rented a $25,000-a-night suite at the Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas. Guests there included the actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Benicio Del Toro, rap artist Pras Michél and hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz. Attending his main Vegas birthday bash were Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Martin Scorsese and Bradley Cooper. Jamie Foxx was the emcee for the evening, which featured performances by musicians Busta Rhymes and Pharrell Williams. A scantily clad Britney Spears jumped out of a cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Low. Enticing all those household names to the party likely cost millions.

Even as Low brought attention to his success, the source of...

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