The elderly acting legend is already a tax delinquent again — with the paychecks from his next two movies to offset his latest multimillion-dollar bill to Uncle Sam, his divorce lawyer claimed.
“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,” the actor’s lawyer Caroline Krauss told a Manhattan judge during a virtual divorce hearing.
“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?” Ms Krauss added, referring to her client’s ex, Grace Hightower, and the celebrity designer.
“He could get sick tomorrow, and the party’s over,” she said of the famed “Raging Bull” and “The Irishman” star.
The hearing came as the pair continues to squabble over how much money De Niro should have to pay to Ms Hightower until the terms of their 2004 prenup agreement kick in, presumably after their divorce is finalised.
Hightower’s lawyer, Kevin McDonough, argued that since filing for divorce in 2018, De Niro has unfairly continued to cut the amount of money he has been sending his estranged spouse, including involving her credit-card expenses, going from $375,000 a month to just $100,000 monthly as recently as January.
Ms Krauss said De Niro is behind millions of dollars on his taxes and that the money from his next two movie projects will go toward paying off those liabilities. De Niro — who was clobbered with a $6.4 million tax lien in 2015 — has previously said the pandemic decimated his finances.
De Niro doesn’t want Hightower and their two kids to have to move out of their Manhattan apartment as per the prenup, which calls for the former couple to sell the $20 million pad, split the profits and then have him buy a new $6 million home for the trio, Krauss said.
But “if the choice is selling the apartment and following the agreement or paying pursuant to Ms. Hightower’s demands — which are rich with indulgence, and waste and greed — then we would go with the former,” Krauss said.
McDonough said that until the prenuptial agreement goes into effect, De Niro is supposed to pay her so she can “maintain the status quo” lifestyle she had when they were married — while also crying foul on Krauss’ claims that De Niro is struggling financially.
“If he wants to direct or compel his family to leave their longtime home while he’s spending millions and millions and millions on himself, on his own homes, on renovating what his lawyers tongue-in-cheek call his cottage in Montauk, which he has poured millions and millions into over the past couple of years, he can take that position,” McDonough claimed of the actor.
De Niro and Hightower were married in 1997, split in 1999, then got back together and renewed their vows in 2004 before he filed for divorce three years ago.