Robert De Niro Image Credit: Maxim
Robert De Niro Image Credit: Maxim

Robert De Niro: The Titan Of Tribeca

Already a legend of the screen, Robert De Niro has emerged as one of New York’s savviest entrepreneurs

Bill Saporito

You could say that history cast New York City native Robert De Niro perfectly in his role as a real estate entrepreneur, movie producer, and developer. Not that the two-time Academy Award winner has done all that badly at acting in his more than four decades on screen. But his real estate dealings have followed the footprint of New York’s original business. The city was built—quite literally—in the 17th century by the Dutch inhabitants of New Amsterdam, who filled in parts of lower Manhattan to create more usable property.

Skip ahead a century or so and New York is the birthplace of another industry: moviemaking. The first studios got rolling in the 1890s, the films flickering to life in the Kinetoscope parlors of lower Manhattan. Another hundred years after that, De Niro establishes Tribeca Productions in an emerging neighborhood and in the process cements his reputation as a shrewd businessman. “Robert De Niro was the person who began to see the possibilities of Tribeca,” architecture critic Brendan Gill said in 1997. “He bought property there, developed an old building into a film center and a restaurant. When you do that, a cultural center develops around that, and pretty soon you have what would amount anywhere else to a prosperous village in our great big city.”

That prosperous village, along with his lucrative film career, has given D

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