A Look Back At Robert De Niro's Chaotic Marriage With Grace Hightower

Robert De Niro's marriage to former flight attendant Grave Hightower was chaotic very early on. The pair initially met in 1987 while both attending a nightclub. They remained friends, though it wasn't until ten years later that they began dating seriously. The couple walked down the aisle in June 1997 in a small ceremony, which included only 11 witnesses inside their New York home. De Niro was already a father of four by then, including son Raphael, daughter Drena, and twin sons Aaron and Julian. He became a dad again in March 1998 when he and Hightower had their first child together, son Elliot. Sadly, their marital bliss was short-lived, with De Niro filing for divorce for the first time in August 1999.

After several years apart, De Niro and Hightower were able to reconcile. They'd eventually dropped their petition and renewed their vows in a New York's Catskill Mountains ceremony in November 2004. Hightower and De Niro also hit another exciting milestone in December 2011 when they welcomed daughter Helen Grace via surrogate. The couple seemed to be doing well until they announced in November 2018 that they were separating, and this time, it was for good. However, throughout their marriage, there were several signs that the pair would not last.

De Niro and his staff once accused Hightower of having an alarming temper

During their first split, Robert De Niro made shocking allegations against Grace Hightower in court. According to the "Raging Bull" star, Hightower attacked him while on a yacht. De Niro said his wife became jealous and broke his ribs after suspecting that he hooked up with a woman who was also on the ship. After they got back together, Lucyna Turyk-Wawrynowicz, an ex-housekeeper of the couple, claimed that Hightower was even mean to their children. The couple's employee was accused of stealing a pair of earrings from Hightower in August 2005. While speaking with cops, she reportedly revealed, "She is mean. If Mr. De Niro knew how badly she treats her kids, he would leave her" (via New York Post).

In December 2018, one month after De Niro decided to leave his marriage for the final time, an insider shared with RadarOnline that Hightower was very controlling. De Niro reportedly had to call her twice daily while on the set of productions and was even barred from seeing his friends, including Martin Scorsese and Keith Richards. This likely contributed to his decision to end the relationship, but her love for money may have also played a role.

He accused her of running through his money

Robert De Niro invested in Grace Hightower's Coffees of Rwanda brand, now known as Coffee of Grace. While the brewing company had seen some success by landing in several locations, such as the Ace Hotel and Salvation Burger, De Niro was reportedly unhappy with the amount of money being pumped into the venture. In February 2017, an insider told Page Six that the Academy Award winner grew angry with Hightower inside a Manhattan bar and yelled at her for running through his money. Unfortunately, this claim would come up again during their separation.

Their court battle dragged on for years, and in April 2021, De Niro shared he was forced to take on any movie job he could get to afford his tax bill and Hightower's lifestyle. His attorneys even alleged the entrepreneur dropped $1.2 million on a diamond ring in 2019. The two sprawled over his fortune, though a judge ruled she could not take half of his income, as requested. In the end, Hightower walked away with $1 million annually, half the proceeds from the sale of their $20 million home, and a $6 million lump sum to purchase a new place. De Niro began dating martial arts instructor Tiffany Chen in 2021, the same year his divorce was finalized, and they welcomed a baby girl together in May 2023, making him a parent of seven at age 79.