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During her testimony on Thursday, Tiffany Chen, Robert De Niro’s girlfriend, described his former personal assistant as “psychotic” and “dangerous.” She also claimed that the employee had an “imaginary intimacy” with the renowned actor.
Ms Chen testified in a $12m (£9.9m) workplace discrimination lawsuit brought by Graham Chase Robinson that accuses the Oscar-winning actor of causing her “extreme emotional distress and reputational harm”.
The Goodfellas star is filing a lawsuit against Ms. Robinson for reportedly taking money, gift cards, electronic devices, and $450,000 worth of airline miles from his company Canal Productions. Ms. Robinson left the company in 2019 after having conflicts with Ms. Chen.
On Thursday, Ms. Chen appeared in the Manhattan court as a witness and confessed to giving De Niro an ultimatum to remove Ms. Robinson from their team. The two women had been arguing over catering, home renovations, and a perceived lack of respect during private jet flights.
Ms. Chen compared her boyfriend’s ex-assistant to the main character in the 1992 psychological thriller “Single White Female.”
Ms Chen concurred that Ms Robinson was “extremely fixated, exhibiting signs of psychosis, and posed a threat.”
She appeared visibly upset when the court was presented with numerous personal text messages and emails between her and De Niro. In these conversations, she essentially gave the actor an ultimatum to choose between her and Ms Robinson.
Ms Chen was repeatedly questioned about whether she had written the texts, to which she responded, “Yes, I wrote it.”
According to the court, the situation worsened when the couple relocated to a new townhouse in 2018. De Niro publicly announced his separation from his former wife, Grace Hightower, in November of the same year.
In a message to De Niro in 2019, Ms Chen expressed her discomfort with the way she feels possessive of the house. She believes this feeling of entitlement comes from an imagined closeness with him.
“She believes she is your spouse and has taken on the role of managing the household.”
When questioned about whether she believed Ms Robinson believed she was in a romantic relationship with De Niro, she stated to the court: “I believe she is aware that she is not, but that is what causes her frustration because she desires it.”
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Chen stated that she believes she is in control of everyone.
During a conversation presented to the court on March 3, 2019, Ms. Chen expressed her frustration to De Niro, stating that she was fed up with Chase’s nonsense.
Chen stated that CHASE is a very unpleasant and difficult person.
“If you continue to keep her, you and I may eventually encounter issues as you have enabled her disrespectful behavior towards you. Now, she is dictating what she will do and asserting her role.”
Ms Robinson maintained a composed demeanor during Ms Chen’s unexpected verbal attack in court. Throughout the nearly four hours of testimony, the two avoided making eye contact.
Ms. Chen shared about her disagreement with Ms. Robinson during the preparation of a birthday celebration for Martin Scorcese, who is a close friend and colleague of De Niro’s. The event took place at their townhouse in November 2018.
Ms Chen mentioned that she requested assistance in arranging the party and encountered Ms Robinson, who was “extremely upset and possessive”.
Ms Chen acknowledged that Ms Robinson had a long-term connection with De Niro and did not wish to interfere with their dynamic.
“I was unaware of the extent to which she was familiar with his acquaintances.”
In a previous conversation from 2019, Ms. Chen expressed to De Niro that she will not be satisfied until he informs her that he is searching for a replacement for her. She will see what action he takes, but keeping the other person around is disrespectful to her.
Ms Chen also texted Michael Kaplan, a former employee of Canal Productions who testified in the trial, that Ms Robinson had gone into the bedroom of the couple’s townhouse and unplugged all of her electronics.
Ms. Chen wrote that the situation has taken on a resemblance to the movie “Single White Female.”
When asked to provide more details, Ms. Chen clarified that she was describing a woman who is “fixated, unstable, and hazardous.”
She stated that she thought Ms Robinson had fantasies about being in a romantic relationship with the actor.
Chen stated, “I thought she lived in a fantasy world for her entire life.”
“If her daydreams start to interfere with my personal life…I will make things challenging for her.”
Ms. Chen testified in court, saying, “She believed she had control over the situation.”
She stated that Ms Robinson had a dual personality like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and would act differently when in the presence of De Niro to deliberately confuse the situation.
Ms. Chen was questioned about a private jet trip back from a vacation in Antigua in early 2019. During the trip, she and De Niro discovered that Ms. Robinson had instructed the flight attendants not to provide any food.
She expressed her worry to De Niro that if her mean alter ego is not addressed currently, it could lead to significant issues in the future.
Chen stated that the girl is unkind, lacking confidence, and possessive, and her actions have not only impacted Chen, but also others in their life in various ways.
Judge Lewis Liman had to repeatedly remind Ms Chen to stick to the question at hand, as her responses tended to be lengthy and off-topic. “Please focus on directly answering the question,” the judge instructed her.
In 2015, Ms. Chen and the Oscar winner first encountered each other while working on The Intern. However, they did not make their relationship public until 2021, as they had initially intended to keep it private.
It is anticipated that Ms. Robinson will testify on Friday.