AceShowbiz - Even a veteran actor like Robert De Niro is greatly affected by the financial crisis that strikes America amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The 76-year-old is currently battling his estranged wife Grace Hightower in court after he slashed her monthly allowance by half, which he claims is the result of him taking a big pay cut this year.
Grace has submitted an emergency order to court, asking the "Joker" star to raise the limit of her American Express credit card limit from $50,000 to $100,000. According to Page Six, the actor/producer has also banned Grace and their children from an upstate compound where he is staying during the pandemic.
Responding to the claims, Robert's attorney Caroline Krauss told the judge that the actor has taken a huge financial hit due to COVID-19. The restaurant chain Nobu and Greenwich Hotel, both of which he has stakes in, have been closed or partially closed for months, resulting in the cut to the credit card limit.
Caroline said that Nobu lost $3 million in April and another $1.87 million in May, and Robert recently had to pay investors $500,000 on a capital call, which he borrowed money from his business partners to make, "because he doesn't have the cash."
The attorney additionally argued that under the terms of their 2004 prenuptial agreement, Robert is only required to pay Grace $1 million a year as long as he's making $15 million or more in a year, but the spousal support will be adjusted proportionally should he make less than $15 million.
"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," Caroline stated, adding that he's only expected to make about $2.5 million in 2020 and 2021 for "The Irishman", as most proceeds have been paid out.
Also in the wake of the pandemic, Robert's movie project that was scheduled to film this summer in Oklahoma has been put on hold. "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," Caroline said, adding that the actor himself has begun cutting back spending "dramatically."
But Grace's team didn't buy the explanation. Her lawyer Kevin McDonough hit back that "the idea that Mr. De Niro is tightening his belt is nonsense." He alleged, "Mr. De Niro has used the COVID pandemic, my words would be, to stick it to his wife financially."
The lawyer went on claiming, "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."
In his temporary ruling, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper said that Robert should maintain the $50,000 credit card limit, but pay Grace $75,000 so that she and their two children can find a summer home. "I am not requiring at this point that Mr. De Niro restore the credit card to $100,000," the judge stated. "$50,000 seems to be certainly enough to avoid irreparable harm."
Robert and Grace had been together on-and-off since 1997. In 1999, they split but their divorce was never finalized. In 2014, they renewed their vows, before calling it quits again in November 2018. They share two children together, 21-year-old son Elliot and 8-year-old daughter Helen.