Restaurant and bar magnate Giuseppe Cipriani — the man behind the sceney Italian Cipriani restaurants — is being questioned for his relationship with Harvey Weinstein, the powerful movie producer under NYPD investigation for alleged sexual assault in New York. A new report from the Daily Beast says that Weinstein used Cipriani’s properties as a “hunting ground” for women, something that Cipriani himself allegedly helped facilitate.
NYPD has been investigating Weinstein for an assault at Cipriani Upstairs in Soho, where he allegedly forced actress Lucia Evans to perform oral sex on him in 2004. (He has pleaded not guilty.) Three more of Weinstein’s alleged assaults happened at Cipriani businesses. Cipriani hasn’t been charged with any crimes.
Also in New York, actress Lauren Sivan alleges that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2007 following a meal at Cipriani Downtown and drinks at shuttered Cipriani West Village lounge Socialista. She and a friend were with both Weinstein and Cipriani, and Sivan alleges that Weinsten brought her downstairs alone and tried to kiss her and masturbated in front of her. (Weinstein denies the allegations.)
But Sivan’s friend spoke to the Daily Beast about Cipriani’s role in the situation:
“I was sitting with Giuseppe and said, ‘Listen my friend is with Harvey. What do you think? Should I go find her?” the friend said speaking on the condition of confidentiality fearful of reprisals from both men. (Sivan confirmed her friend told this story later that night.)
“He laughed and said, ‘If it was my friend I would.’”
She then tried to go find Sivan, but security allegedly blocked her from reaching Weinstein and Sivan, she says. Cipriani said he did not remember the incident.
More than two dozen people told the Daily Beast about Cipriani and Weinstein’s relationship: Cipriani restaurants became known for their celebrity clientele partly with the help of Weinstein, and Cipriani allegedly introduced Weinstein to women.
Cipriani has businesses around the world — an upscale hospitality empire that started in Venice and became global when the family opened a restaurant in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in 1985, now called Harry Cipriani. The Italian food company has since expanded like wild.
But this isn’t the first time the family’s gotten caught up in a swirl of scandal: Arrigo and Giuseppe Cipriani pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2007, forced to pay $10 million in restitution to avoid jail time, and shortly after, they allegedly paid off the SLA to soothe a liquor license dispute, eventually forcing an aid to the governor to resign.