Since 1989, De Niro, who lives in New York City and has never lived full time in Los Angeles, has been investing in the TriBeCa neighborhood in lower Manhattan. His capital ventures have included cofounding the film studio TriBeCa Productions; the popular TriBeCa Film Festival; Nobu and TriBeCa Grill, which he co-owns with Paul Wallace and Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane, and finally The Greenwich Hotel, located in Tribeca, next door to another restaurant he owns, The Tribeca Grill
In 1997, De Niro married his second wife, Grace Hightower (a former flight attendant), at their estate near Marbletown in upstate New York (De Niro also has residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan). Their son Elliot was born in 1998.
In addition to Elliot, De Niro has a son, Raphael, a former actor who now works in New York real estate with first wife Diahnne Abbott. He also adopted Abbott's daughter (from a previous relationship), Drena. In addition, he has twin sons, Julian Henry and Aaron Kendrick (conceived by in vitro fertilization and delivered by a surrogate mother), from a long-term live-in relationship with former model Toukie Smith.
In February 1998, during a film shoot in France, he was taken in for questioning by French police for nine hours and was then questioned by a magistrate over a prostitution ring. De Niro denied any involvement, saying that he had never paid for sex, "...and even if I had, it wouldn't have been a crime." The magistrate wanted to speak to him after his name was mentioned by one of the call girls. In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, he said, "I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France," and he would "send your Legion of Honor back to the ambassador, as soon as possible." French judicial sources say the actor is regarded as a potential witness, not a suspect.
In 2003, De Niro was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The prognosis for De Niro (who was 60 at the time) was good, according to his publicist, Stan Rosenfield. "Doctors say the condition was detected at an early stage because of regular checkups," Rosenfield says. "Because of the early detection and his excellent physical condition, doctors project a full recovery." Rosenfield declined to give further details about the actor's condition or course of treatment. De Niro's father, painter Robert De Niro, Sr. died of cancer in 1993 at age 71.
De Niro was due to be bestowed with honorary Italian citizenship at the Venice Film Festival in September 2004. However, the Sons of Italy lodged a protest with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, claiming De Niro had damaged the image of Italians and Italian-Americans by frequently portraying them in criminal roles. Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani dismissed the objections, and the ceremony was rescheduled to go forward in Rome in October. Controversy flared again when De Niro failed to show for two media appearances in Italy that month, which De Niro blamed on "serious communication problems" that weren't "handled properly" on his end, stating, "The last thing I would want to do is offend anyone. I love Italy." The citizenship was conferred on De Niro on October 21, 2006, during the finale of the Rome Film Festival.
De Niro is a supporter of the Democratic Party, and vocally supported Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Filmmaker Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 includes a clip of De Niro standing next to Gore at a rally; Moore identifies him as "that Taxi Driver guy." De Niro publicly supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. In 1998, he lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton. De Niro also narrated 9/11, a documentary about the September 11, 2001 attacks, shown on CBS and centering on video footage made by Jules and Gedeon Naudet that focused on the role of firefighters following the attacks. While promoting his movie The Good Shepherd with co-star Matt Damon on the December 8, 2006 episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews at George Mason University, De Niro was asked whom he would like to see as President of the United States. De Niro responded, "Well, I think of two people: Hillary Clinton and Obama." On February 4, 2008, De Niro supported Obama at a rally at the Izod Center in New Jersey before Super Tuesday.
Robert De Niro, shock jock Howard Stern, Marc Antony and billionaire Donald Trump are reportedly amongst the celebrities who are authorised to carry a concealed weapon.
Reports have emerged that a number of big names have permits that mean they are licensed to carry a gun.
These include the children of a few famous faces including Trump's son Donald Jnr and Martha Stewart's daughter, radio host Alexis Stewart, the New York Daily News reports.
"We have seen an increase in celebs seeking their own permits," John Skylar Chambers, a lawyer who has helped New Yorkers get gun permits for more than two decades commented.
De Niro's 1970s comb ad unearthed
Robert De Niro's early attempts at finding fame have been revealed - he posed as a model in a magazine commercial for a hair-enhancing comb.
The Oscar-winning Hollywood legend was still a budding actor in New York City when he took part in an advertising campaign for Remington's Hot Comb in the early 1970s.
A copy of the poster ad, thought to date from 1973, a year before De Niro's Academy Award-winning turn in The Godfather: Part II, has been unearthed by U.S. film critic Roger Ebert.
It shows the actor suffering several hair disasters in an open-top car, on a tennis court, and in the middle of a rainstorm.
Pictures of De Niro looking finely-groomed and with a sexy woman on his arm appear at the bottom of the ad with text explaining that the Hot Comb will prevent the user from "looking like the nation's number one disaster area".