- Robert De Niro turned an old barn into a unique modern mansion, later assessed at $6 million.
- He later got in trouble with the town of Gardiner due to the property taxes he didn’t want to pay.
- Aside from still working in Hollywood, De Niro loves being around his children and grandchildren, with whom he eats ice cream near his home in New York.
After so many decades in Hollywood, it’s not surprising to learn that Robert De Niro has a vast number of properties all around the world. However, his estate in New York is the most amazing and his primary home. It’s located in Gardiner, although he also had a few rented places in the West Village and Central Park West.
The Gardiner property is a 2,222-square-foot mansion on 98 acres, which he bought in 1997 for $1.5 million. It was designed in the 18th century and has had several additions since then. It includes six bedrooms and seven baths and has the most fantastic view of the Hudson River.
However, after purchasing the property, the actor did his own remodeling, including turning the barn into a 14,000-square-foot recreation center. It features a boxing room, a film studio, a game room, a swimming pool, a steam room, a sauna, and much more.
Surprisingly, there are other barns on the property, which De Niro turned into a workshop and an office. Meanwhile, there are two guest houses, a tennis court, etc. It’s now considered a multi-building compound. They even have a ski slope close by.
Like most of his other children, Gia has been kept out of the public eye.
His Dream Home Turned Into a Nightmare
Unfortunately, the actor had a massive fight with the town of Gardiner that spanned over three years due to the property taxes on his estate. The $1.5 million mansion was later assessed at $6 million, which De Niro refused to pay. Therefore, he went to court.
The actor also didn’t impress the 5,800 Gardiner people, including farmers, second-home owners, and other workers. However, most people don’t know De Niro is in town unless they hear the helicopter go up Wallkill River. Some residents have even called him “the ghost of Gardiner.” Additionally, it has also been said that he told his neighbors:
“Don’t bother me. I won’t bother you.”
However, the town did bother De Niro over his property tax bill. The bigger issue is that the legal battle was more expensive than the actor had to pay, so many Gardiner residents thought it odd that he wouldn’t settle in the first place.
The legal battle was fierce, with De Niro refusing to give in. That made his neighbors think less of him than they initially did. When the judge ruled against his trust, the actor continued, filing an appeal. A barber at a local place said that most people were rooting for him until he refused to admit defeat.
During the case, several assessments were made on the property, with the town finally landing a fair number: $6 million. But the trust didn’t like it and went on with the appeal. The property tax with that assessment would have been $170,000, which seems fair for such a grand compound.
The town also didn’t back down, fearing that if the actor won, other wealthy property owners would try to do the same and not pay their taxes. Meanwhile, the neighbors were getting angrier because De Niro often talked about loving Gardiner. Bill Hess, who grew up on the property way before the actor bought it, said:
“If he loves it so much, maybe he should help pay to maintain it.”
Ultimately, De Niro’s trust lost the battle after three years in court, and he had to pay the property tax bill and the massive legal fees from the protracted dispute. He had to cover the town’s part as well.
Robert De Niro and His Children
Aside from being one of the most iconic actors ever, De Niro is a proud father to seven children: Drena, Raphael, Aaron, Julian, Elliot, Helen, and Gia. In 1976, he married singer Diahnne Abbot and had his first son, Raphael.
Abbot had a daughter, Drena, from a previous relationship, and the actor adopted her before his separation from the singer in 1988. De Niro later dated model Toukie Smith, and although they never got married, they had twins, Julian and Aaron, using IVF and surrogacy.
Sadly, they broke up shortly afterward. The actor married Grace Hightower in 1997 and had Elliot in 1998, followed by Helen in 2011. His second marriage lasted 20 years, but the couple split in 2018. When asked about his kids, De Niro said:
“I love my children, just being with them. [But] It’s not easy. When you have the good moments [though], you forget about the ones that weren’t good.”
In an interview in 2009, De Niro, then 66, described how much he loved being a father and grandfather: “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…”
The seasoned actor expressed that he liked being around his kids and grandkids and missed them immensely when they were away. Despite how challenging fatherhood can be, De Niro loves being a family man and is unafraid to discuss complex topics with his children. All his children are biracial, so they’ve had serious talks about civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Despite his busy career, he also makes as much time for them as possible. He has encouraged them to enter the business if they’re happy. He revealed his advice for them:
“For my kids, I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy. Just don’t sell yourself short.’ […] It’s important for them to find their own lane.”
Drena is De Niro’s oldest daughter, born in 1971. Over the years, she has modeled, consulted in fashion, and DJ’ed. You might have also seen her in movies like “Joy,” “A Star Is Born,” and “Love & Orgasms.” She also gave birth to Leandro De Niro Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Raphael De Niro was born in 1976, and he is a successful real estate broker in New York and has sold properties to celebrities such as Jon Bon Jovi. However, he also tried acting in films like “Awakenings” and “Raging Bull.”
He married Claudine De Matos and had three kids before divorcing. He later married Hannah Carnes. In 1995, De Niro had his twins, Julian and Aaron, and unlike their older siblings, they don’t like being seen. However, it seems that they might decide to model in the future.
In 1998, he had his son Elliot, another of his young kids who stays away from the limelight. The actor later revealed that Elliot is on the autism spectrum. He also loves tennis, so De Niro built a tennis court on his Gardiner property.
In 2019, Elliot was featured in a series titled: “Special Olympics: 50 Game Changers”—an experience his parents said helped improve his mental, emotional, physical, and social well-being.
Her son’s progress encouraged Hightower to become a Special Olympics New York Board member that year. In the short series, De Niro explained how playing tennis helped his son, and knowing he was good at the game boosted his confidence.
De Niro and Hightower’s youngest daughter, Helen, also prefers to keep a low profile. Despite calling it quits after being together for two decades, they have healthily co-parented. While splitting from his then-wife in 2018, De Niro expressed:
“I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting.”
The actor also shared his thoughts about fatherhood and raising his children: “There are great moments and moments of sadness…It’s like when you walk your kids to school and they get older and they don’t want to hold your hand or kiss you goodbye.” De Niro enjoys being a dad and is seen eating ice cream with his younger kids and grandchildren sometimes.
On April 6, 2023, De Niro embraced fatherhood again and had his youngest daughter with his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen. The actor shared the news about welcoming his seventh baby a month after her birth. But like most of his other children, Gia has been kept out of the public eye.
According to sources, De Niro’s lawyer revealed in 2020 that he would stay in his Gardiner property for the foreseeable future. At the time, the “Casino” actor was 76 and fell in the category of people for whom the coronavirus pandemic was deemed dangerous.
During that time, nearly all of De Niro’s kids and grandkids were there, and he wished to stay close to them. Moreover, he was also concerned for his autistic son and didn’t wish to switch his residence for fear of risking his well-being.
De Niro’s ex-wife’s lawyer maintained that she and the couple’s two children, Elliot and Helen, should be allowed exclusive use of the magnificent residence. However, the Manhattan Supreme Court later declared that De Niro pay $75,000 more to Hightower so that she could find a suitable place to stay in New York.