Southwest Florida

Actor Robert De Niro’s Bad Prenup

Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “Robert De Niro Prenup Breakdown Can Rock NYC Real Estate (And $500M Dynasty),” says that Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro is estimated to be worth $300 million and with a $400 million Queens real estate development partnership with his son Raphael, there’s plenty more money.

Grace Hightower has been with De Niro one way or another since 1987. They were married 10 years later, almost split in 1999, and then reconciled five years later. A big issue in their current divorce is the lack of a firm prenuptial contract (prenup) protecting De Niro’s fortune.

When the couple got back together, the terms were that she would get $500,000 in cash, along with what it would take to buy her out of the marital home. She’d also get an apartment, then valued at $6 million, as well as $1 million a year in upkeep. However, unfortunately for De Niro, the contract also apparently confirmed in writing that everything he made after the prenup was executed was a partnership, 50-50.

A good prenuptial contract should be reviewed, just like an estate plan. If it’s out of date, it should be modified to something more current and defensible. The actor may have only been worth $100 million when the prenup was written. Now that he’s tripled that net worth, the numbers no longer add up the same way.

Meanwhile, De Niro is in deep trying to renovate an entire neighborhood into a Hollywood-style film production hub. Purchasing the land is costing close to $75 million. And it’s not all his money. His son Raphael (from a previous marriage) is a high-powered real estate broker lining up venture investors and adding his own funds to the project. If Grace wants $50 million or even $10 million now, De Niro and his son could have a problem. To comply with the prenup, he may have to allow Grace to participate in the new project instead of giving her cash. Or he may have to borrow or liquidate properties to come up with cash.

A good prenup  – or regular reviews – could have avoided all of this.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (June 24, 2019) “Robert De Niro Prenup Breakdown Can Rock NYC Real Estate (And $500M Dynasty)”

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