$500M worth Robert De Niro slashed ex Grace Hightower's spousal support by half after Covid-19 financial jolt

The Hollywood legend appeared in court via video call for his Manhattan divorce case which saw Hightower's lawyer tell a judge how De Niro cut her monthly American Express credit card allowance from $100,000 to $50,000


                            $500M worth Robert De Niro slashed ex Grace Hightower's spousal support by half after Covid-19 financial jolt
Robert De Niro (L) and Grace Hightower. (Getty Images)

Robert De Niro has suffered a massive financial blow due to the coronavirus, according to the actor's finances revealed in court. Meanwhile, his estranged wife is seeking an emergency order to raise her monthly credit card limit from $50,000 to $100,000. The Hollywood legend appeared in court via video call for his Manhattan divorce case which saw ex Grace Hightower's lawyer tell a judge how De Niro cut her monthly American Express credit card allowance from $100,000 to $50,000 and that she and their children were not allowed to visit the actor's upstate compound, where he's staying amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawyers for the 'Irishman' star argued that Hightower's credit card limit had been slashed because their client had taken a sizeable financial hit due to the coronavirus lockdown. Restaurant chain Nobu and the Greenwich Hotel, both of which De Niro has stakes in, have been mostly defunct for months without any business.

Actors Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower at "The First Monday In May" World Premiere - 2016 Tribeca Film Festival - Opening Night at John Zuccotti Theater at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Caroline Krauss, one of his lawyers, told the judge that Nobu "lost $3 million in April and another $1.87 million in May." She added that De Niro had to pay investors "$500,000 on a capital call" after he borrowed the money from his business partners "because he doesn’t have the cash," Page Six reported. Krauss noted during the call that De Niro is required to pay Hightower $1 million a year only if he's making $15 million or more in income. Under the terms of their 2004 prenuptial agreement, if De Niro's payments decline, his payments to her proportionally do too. “His accounts and business manager … says that the best case for Mr. De Niro, if everything starts to turn around this year,… he is going to be lucky if he makes $7.5 million this year,” Krauss said.

According to Krauss, proceeds from Netflix’s 'The Irishman' have mostly already been paid out. Meanwhile, a movie project the Hollywood veteran was scheduled to begin filming this summer in Oklahoma has been stalled for now. “These people, in spite of his robust earnings, have always spent more than he has earned so this 76-year-old robust man couldn’t retire even if he wanted to because he can’t afford to keep up with his lifestyle expense,” Krauss said, revealing that De Niro has cut back on his expenses “dramatically.”

But Keven McDonough, a lawyer representing Hightower, believes “the idea that Mr. De Niro is tightening his belt is nonsense.”

“Mr. De Niro has used the COVID pandemic, my words would be, to stick it to his wife financially,” McDonough said. “I’m not a believer that a man who has an admitted worth of $500 million and makes $30 million a year, all of a sudden in March he needs to cut down [spousal support] by 50 percent and ban her from the house,” he added.

Actor Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower arrive at the "Brotherhood" screening during the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival on May 3, 2004 in New York City. (Getty Images)

In a temporary ruling, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper allowed De Niro to keep Hightower’s credit card limit at $50,000 a month. However, he was ordered to pay her $75,000 so she could find a summer home for their two kids. De Niro's other children are staying at his three-house compound upstate. “I am not requiring at this point that Mr. De Niro restore the credit card to $100,000,” Cooper said. “$50,000 seems to be certainly enough to avoid irreparable harm.” De Niro and Hightower were on-and-off for years until the former filed for divorce in 2018. The pair has two children together - Helen, 8, and Elliot, 21.

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