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A night out watching some young performers, dinners at Cipriani, an attempt to make a deal and a date over some art — Harvey Weinstein has been spending the final months before his rape trial starts on Jan. 8 trying to lead a New York life a lot like the Weinstein of old, save for the GPS tracking bracelet on his ankle and the tendency to provoke reactions of shock and anger from bystanders.
On Wednesday night, Weinstein arrived in the basement of the Downtime Bar on the Lower East Side, where a group of actors, singers, dancers and comics had gathered for an audience of about 50 people attending a suicide prevention fundraiser. The disgraced mogul, who had been invited by a singing duo scheduled to perform, arrived looking thin, hunched over a walker he uses for back pain and flanked by an entourage that included two younger women and two beefy men.
Weinstein, 67, who had been living in relative seclusion in his home in Connecticut since October of 2017, has been stepping out in public and spending more time in New York City, particularly since his divorce from Georgina Chapman was finalized in recent months. Sometimes people scream at him; sometimes they ask for selfies. On Wednesday, Weinstein became the centerpiece of a raw night as a female comic called him out from the stage and other women in the audience confronted him before they were asked to leave the club.
Comedian Kelly Bachman spotted Weinstein seated at a table before she took the stage to deliver her 10-minute set and approached one of the organizers of the event, which was put on jointly by the groups Actors Hour and Fundraiser Underground. “I said, ‘Do you always invite the Boogeyman to your parties?” says Bachman, who had previously produced a show called “Rape Jokes By Survivors.” “I’m sitting here with a monster from my literal nightmare.” When Bachman acknowledged the “Freddy Krueger” in the room during her set, she realized that Weinstein had more of the crowd on his side than she did, as some members of the audience booed and one man shouted at her to “shut up.” “The crowd seemed to be this naive group of young hopefuls who still think that Harvey Weinstein is a person who is going to fund their project or get them into a movie,” Bachman says. “It felt like this sad attempt to re-kindle his old life.”
The Wednesday night appearance may not have been Weinstein’s first at the monthly event — audience member Amber Rollo was told he had attended the previous month’s showcase as well. “Why this space? And why this event?” says Rollo. “An event that is specifically aimed at helping young artists and actors? It feels like a real insult and power move to try to be there. Everyone was a little bit scared of him. You don’t know what control he still has.”
Weinstein has also been visiting one of his old haunts — he was spotted dining with two women and a man at Cipriani Downtown on Oct. 15, a restaurant owned by his longtime friend Giuseppi Cipriani. It was at Cipriani over the summer that Weinstein attempted to befriend art dealer Alysha Marko, the 33-year-old niece of Christine Pressman, wife of Barneys heir Gene Pressman. “Harvey told me he was an investor in the restaurant,” Marko says, adding that “he was surprisingly charming and upbeat.” After an hour of chit-chat, Weinstein asked Marko if she’d join him for dinner, offering to lend her dresses from Chapman’s Marchesa collection, claiming that he and his ex-wife were still “best friends.” (Weinstein’s rep says he did not offer the Marchesa dresses, and that Marko “must not have heard him properly.”) Marko declined, but says Weinstein called the next day and offered to buy one of the paintings at her gallery — she owns UEAST 75 on Madison Ave — if she’d have dinner with him. She still said no. Later, Weinstein turned up at the gallery and picked out a painting to purchase, promising to send a check. A few days later he changed his mind, saying he was waiting till after his trial to buy art. A spokesman for Weinstein says that he did indeed meet Marko at Cipriani but that he does not have an investment in the restaurant. Says Marko, “He was just being the same old Harvey.”
At the Downtime Bar Wednesday night, Weinstein had found some female companionship, including a 30-something blonde woman in a gold dress who gently urged the upset women in the club who confronted Weinstein to leave. “Based on her calmness, we couldn’t understand whether she was trying to help us or help Harvey,” says Bachman. “When a woman is attached to someone who you know is dangerous and abusive it’s like, blink if you need to be rescued, lady.”
Weinstein has denied all charges of non-consensual acts. “Harvey Weinstein was out with friends enjoying the music and trying to find some solace in his life that has been turned upside down,” says a spokesman. “This scene was uncalled for, downright rude and an example of how due process today is being squashed by the public, trying to take it away in the courtroom too.”
A performer who followed Bachman, Andrew Silas, also tried to acknowledge the pariah in the audience, asking, “Which one of you motherfuckers produced Good Will Hunting?” “I don’t know why I thought it would be funny,” says Silas, a chef and part-time comic visiting New York from St. Petersburg, Florida, to see Hamilton on Broadway. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Weinstein, who was sipping Fiji water and chatting with his female companions, sat stone-faced, Silas says. “He didn’t watch the show,” says Silas. “He didn’t clap. He did not look like he wanted to be there. I was thinking to myself, ‘When was the last time Harvey Weinstein sat through a terrible open mic night?’”
Beth Landman contributed to this story.
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