Robert De Niro’s lawyer claims that his estranged wife Grace Hightower’s taste for the finer things is keeping the actor working overtime.
According to Page Six, in a virtual divorce hearing held on Friday, De Niro’s attorney, Caroline Krauss, told a Manhattan judge that her client is working at an unsustainable pace in order to support Hightower and pay off all his back taxes. “Mr. De Niro is 77 years old, and while he loves his craft, he should not be forced to work at this prodigious pace because he has to,” Krauss said. “When does that stop? When does he get the opportunity to not take every project that comes along and not work six-day weeks, 12-hour days so he can keep pace with Ms. Hightower’s thirst for Stella McCartney?” A judge recently ruled that Hightower will receive $1 million per year and the couple will sell their $20 million home; her legal team claims De Niro is worth $500 million. But Krauss argued that the pandemic has put her client’s finances in jeopardy and that his estranged wife’s spending is only making matters worse.
Hightower’s lawyer, Kevin McDonough, claimed, however, that since the pair filed for divorce in 2018, De Niro has been unfairly decreasing his payments to his estranged wife, including lowering her monthly credit card limit from $375,000 to just $100,000 as of January of this year. De Niro and Hightower first married in 1997, broke up in 1999, and then got back together and renewed their vows in 2004 before the actor officially filed for divorce three years ago. But while McDonough argued that his client is owed payments to “maintain the status quo” lifestyle she enjoyed when they were married, Krauss countered that Hightower has been going through money more and more quickly, claiming that she spent $1.67 million in 2019 alone, which included buying a diamond worth $1.2 million.
Krauss went on to explain that on top of the financial demands Hightower is making, De Niro is also currently millions of dollars behind on his taxes, and the money from his next two film projects will go toward paying off that debt. Despite this, McDonough asserted that “there have been no cutbacks and no slowdowns in Mr. De Niro’s lifestyle whatsoever,” adding that “when Mr. De Niro goes to brunch Sunday in Connecticut, he charters a helicopter up there. When he flies down to see his friends in Florida or wherever else, it’s a private jet.” However, Krauss refuted the claim that her client was taking helicopters to brunch, while McDonough likewise denied Hightower spent $1.2 million on a diamond.
During the hearing, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper offered both parties a reality check: “There is nothing ordinary about these expenses. For 99.9999% of the world, these are extraordinary to an almost unimaginable degree.” He added, “I want to get these parties divorced. I want to get Ms. Hightower and Mr. De Niro to go their separate ways. They will still come out of this richer than almost any human being who walks this earth.”
Representatives for De Niro and Hightower were not immediately available for comment.
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