Robert DeNiro’s lawyer claims the 77-year-old is forced to work constantly to fund his estranged wife’s lavish lifestyle

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A few days ago, the famously private Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower clashed in a New York court during a virtual hearing over spending habits. (CREDIT: Gallo Images / Getty Images)
A few days ago, the famously private Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower clashed in a New York court during a virtual hearing over spending habits. (CREDIT: Gallo Images / Getty Images)

He’s gone from starring in Hollywood hits to making TV ads – and it’s all apparently because of his estranged wife’s taste for the finer things in life. 

Hollywood heavyweight Robert De Niro’s lawyers have come out guns blazing in the actor’s high publicity split from his wife, Grace Hightower.

According to lawyer Caroline Krauss, the 77-year-old actor has been forced to take “every project that comes along” in order to pay for his estranged wife’s “thirst for Stella McCartney” and $1,1 million (R15m) diamond rings.

Though Robert made a name for himself as an award-winning actor, Caroline says he’s taken parts in box office flops and appears in car ads just to keep up with Grace’s mounting bills. 

“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? He could get sick tomorrow and the party’s over,” she says.

Robert and Grace (66) have been embroiled in a drawn-out divorce since they split in 2018 after 21 years together. Their on-again off-again relationship harks back to 1997, when they wed. 

In 1999 they broke up but got back together and renewed their vows in 2004 before the actor officially filed for divorce three years ago. The couple have a son, Elliot (23), and daughter Helen (9). Grace’s spending has been cited as one of the reasons for their breakup. 

As well as spending excessive amounts of money on British designer Stella McCartney’s designs, the former waitress spent an average $215 000 (R3,1m) a month on her credit card and another $160 000 (2,3m) in cash. In 2019 alone, she reportedly spent $1,67m (R24m) most of it on a $1,2m (R17m) diamond from a high-end New York jewellers.

The acting legend has appeared in commercials for
The acting legend has appeared in commercials for car firm Kia and credit card giant American Express. (CREDIT: Youtube/The Wheel Network)

Grace’s lawyers, however, insist she’s owed payments to “maintain the status quo” lifestyle she enjoyed with the star during their marriage. Her lawyer Kevin McDonough claims Robert has been unfairly decreasing his payments to his estranged wife, including lowering her monthly credit card limit from $375,000 (R5,5m) to just $100,000 (R1,4m) as of January of this year. 

The Oscar-winner was once said to be worth an estimated $350m (R5 billion), built up during a 50-year Hollywood career, but Robert’s team is arguing the pandemic has put their client’s finances in jeopardy. He apparently also owes millions in unpaid taxes, with Krauss claiming the income from his next two films will be devoted to paying off this debt, which in 2015 was revealed to be $6,4m (R73m). 

However, Grace’s legal team says the actor is still enjoying the high life, despite his claims of poverty.

“There have been no cutbacks and no slowdowns in Mr De Niro’s lifestyle whatsoever – 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,” Kevin says.

The high-profile couple has been criticised by Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper, who presided over their divorce hearing.

“There’s nothing ordinary about these expenses. For 99.9999% of the world, these are extraordinary to an almost unimaginable degree,” Cooper said. 

“I want to get these parties divorced. I want to get Ms Hightower and Mr De Niro to go their separate ways,” he added. “They’ll still come out of this richer than almost any human being who walks this earth.”


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