After a TV journalist alleged Harvey Weinstein masturbated in front of her at a Manhattan hotspot in 2007, the producer’s legal team immediately leaned on its owner, hoping to absolve their client of the claim, the then-proprietor tells The Hollywood Reporter. But Socialista impresario Armin Amiri had long been troubled by the conduct on that occasion of Weinstein, an investor in the A-list lounge, and his “memory clicked” when Lauren Sivan spoke out to The Huffington Post on Oct. 6 about it.
“What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out,” Amiri says. “It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.” (Socialista’s kitchen closed at 11:30 p.m.)
Amiri, now an actor (The Wrestler, Fox Networks Group’s upcoming Deep State) who appeared in The Weinstein Co.’s 2006 film Factory Girl, goes on to explain that he accompanied the chef back to the kitchen and witnessed the producer “fixing his belt” behind Socialista’s bar. (He never saw Sivan.) “[The chef] picks up a pot that had been placed back on the stove,” he says. “It had been defiled. It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened.”
Sivan’s own lurid telling of the decade-ago encounter — in which Weinstein ejaculated into an adjacent potted plant, instead of the cooking pot — has stood out as piquantly grotesque among dozens of accounts by other women who have come forward to allege a pattern of unwanted sexual advances and rape. Some of these alleged attacks are now under investigation by law enforcement agencies in New York City and London.
Amiri observes he never brought up the Socialista incident with Weinstein: “I couldn’t prove any of it so I never confronted him.”
Weinstein's representative, Sallie Hofmeister, explained that he's unavailable to respond as he's currently in treatment. (It was previously reported that he's seeking rehabilitation for sex addiction.) She also shared an e-mail from another Socialista then-partner, the New York hospitality player Guiseppe Cipriani. It stated that he was at the location on that occasion. "To my knowledge, no incident occurred at the premises on the night in question and nobody complained about, or reported any such alleged incident to me."
For her part, Sivan tweeted after this story was first published: "What this says to me? I wasn't the only woman + that wasn't the only potted plant/kitchen pot."
Amiri's full statement to THR is below:
“Last week, after Lauren Sivan came forward with her awful story about Harvey Weinstein and the ‘potted plant’ at Socialista, he contacted me. We hadn’t spoken in years. He told me he needed a statement about his involvement in Socialista, which I said I’d be happy to provide, and I did, and then his lawyers said he needed one saying I hadn’t seen anything that night. I told them I knew something happened that night, I just hadn’t known what specifically. I couldn’t make a statement absolving him because when she came forward, my memory clicked.
Harvey had been an investor in Socialista and I had appeared in one of the films he distributed, ‘Factory Girl.’ What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out. It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.
I went to check things out and saw Harvey soon after, fixing his belt, behind the bar. I never saw the woman. My chef and I go to the kitchen. He picks up a pot that had been placed back on the stove. It had been defiled. It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened.
I couldn’t prove any of it so I never confronted him. Harvey was an investor and it was around the time he married Georgina Chapman.
My heart goes out to all the brave women who have come forward. Once Ms. Sivan spoke out, and after being contacted by several media outlets, I’ve felt responsible to state what I remembered.”
UPDATED 3:55pm: Sivan's tweet included in text.