After about 30 years together, and two decades of marriage, Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower have reportedly split, multiple outlets confirm. According to Page Six, the couple, who were planning on announcing the breakup themselves sometime in the coming weeks, “are not living together at this time.”
The separation process has reportedly been going on for the past few months: “De Niro and Grace are breaking up. He’s been at a few things since the very end of the summer without her—and rumor has it they are done,” a source told Page Six, citing, as further proof of the split, De Niro’s solo presence at recent events, like a benefit in honor of Martin Scorsese earlier this week. The last public event that De Niro and Hightower attended together was the 2018 Tony Awards, in New York City, in June.
De Niro, 75, and Hightower, 63, met in 1987, when she was working at London’s Mr. Chow restaurant; of the beginnings of their relationship, Hightower told The New York Times in 2013, “It was an ease-in. It wasn’t a whirlwind.” They married in 1997 and welcomed their son, Elliott, the following year. In 1999, De Niro reportedly filed for divorce, sparking a contentious custody battle over Elliott that went on for years, until the pair reconciled and dismissed the divorce filing. They renewed their vows in the Catskills in 2004, surrounded by A-list pals like Scorsese, Ben Stiller, and Meryl Streep, and went on to welcome a daughter, Helen, via surrogate, in December 2011.
Though the pair have largely avoided speaking about their private lives in interviews, De Niro, who is also father to a 47-year-old daughter, Drena, and a 42-year-old son, Raphael, with his first wife, Diahnne Abbott, as well as 23-year-old twin sons, Julian and Aaron, with his former girlfriend Toukie Smith, previously opened up to The Los Angeles Times about fatherhood in 2009, noting that spending as much time as possible with his kids is his main priority. “My whole thing now is just to have the strength to keep my kids in line and get them to the point where they’re independent and self-reliant. I want to make sure my kids know I’m there, and you’ve got to have the stamina to do that,” he said at the time. “I like the kids to be around. Last weekend, they were away and it was just my wife and I, and I don’t know—it was a weird thing, in a way. I missed them. If they want to go to college here [in N.Y.C.] and live at home, I won’t have a problem with that.”