AceShowbiz - Robert De Niro's estranged wife is demanding half of the actor's $300 million (£236 million) fortune, despite signing a prenuptial agreement in 2004.
The "Raging Bull" star filed for divorce from Grace Hightower, his wife of 21 years, in December (18), and although the split initially appeared to be amicable, things have since started to turn ugly.
De Niro and Hightower returned to New York's Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday, June 06, as their lawyers battled over finances with the philanthropist attempting to lay claim to a bigger chunk of the movie veteran's millions.
According to the New York Post, De Niro insists the prenup entitles his ex to $6.5 million (£5.1 million) in cash and property, in addition to annual alimony of $1 million (£788,000), and half the value of a second apartment.
However, Hightower claims the wording of the contract also grants her 50 per cent of De Niro's earnings since they exchanged vows in 2004, which she believes to be around $300 million, thanks to the 38 movies and 35 lucrative business investments he made during the union. His total fortune is estimated at $500 million (£394 million).
"Ms. Hightower has taken the position, 'Nope, I'm entitled to 50 per cent,' " Judge Matthew Cooper said of the dispute. "We are not talking about hundreds of thousands - we are talking millions of dollars here."
Judge Cooper did not issue a firm ruling.
The tense argument over money isn't the only issue at the centre of the divorce battle - the former couple is also trying to establish custody arrangements for its seven-year-old daughter Helen.
De Niro and Hightower, who are also parents to 21-year-old son Elliot, first headed to divorce court in 1999 after just two years as husband and wife. They subsequently reconciled and remarried in 2004.
The 75-year-old is also father to four adult children from his previous marriage to Diahnne Abbott and relationship with actress Toukie Smith.