- Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has infected over 349,000 people across the globe, according to numerous news reports.
- Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York after being found guilty of rape and criminal sexual act.
- Before the allegations against Weinstein led to The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy in March 2018, Weinstein’s stake in TWC was worth an estimated $130 million in 2015.
- At the height of his career, Weinstein produced critically acclaimed films including “Good Will Hunting,” “Django Unchained,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Pulp Fiction,” and television shows including “Project Runway.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Harvey Weinstein has reportedly contracted the coronavirus in prison.
The Niagara Gazette reported on Sunday that the 67-year-old film producer is now being held in isolation at the Wende Correctional Facility in western New York, where he is serving a 23-year sentence for rape and criminal sexual act.
The once-heralded producer behind both Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company built an empire from scratch out of Buffalo, New York. He became a major fundraiser for the Democratic Party, positioning himself as a liberal lion and champion of feminism.
These ideals are in stark contrast to allegations of sexual harassment and rape from more than 80 women that span decades, leading to his ouster from the companies he founded and his eventual arrest, Business Insider reported. Prosecutors in both New York and California alleged that the Weinstein used his position atop one of Hollywood’s most powerful film studios to sexually harass and rape women for years.
Here's a look at the rise and fall of one of the richest and most powerful people in Hollywood.
Harvey Weinstein was born in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York in 1952 to Miriam and Max Weinstein.
He and younger his brother, Bob Weinstein, "grew up in a small two-bedroom apartment in a lower-middle-class housing development called Elechester," Bob wrote in a 2003 Vanity Fair essay.
Their father worked as a diamond cutter in New York City's Diamond District who later opened his own store, he wrote. Harvey got his first business experiences at his father's jewelry store, selling a $1,200 diamond ring at age 13 while his father was out, according to Vanity Fair.
"We learned the 'business' at the University of 47th Street," Bob Weinstein wrote in Vanity Fair. "No actual school could have taught us what it really takes to run an enterprise. The vision, determination, stamina, hope, relentlessness, and sheer work that are involved in staying afloat, much less succeeding, are the same whether you are running a window on 47th Street or Miramax Films or Microsoft.
However, both brothers' passion was film, not diamonds. Their passion for the movie business started when they were kids in Queens going to the movie theater to see foreign films, Bob Weinstein wrote in Vanity Fair.
Harvey Weinstein left Queens to attend college at the University of Buffalo in the fall of 1969, according to The Buffalo News. He stuck around in Buffalo to start a concert-promotion business called Harvey and Corky Productions.
Soon after moving to Buffalo, Weinstein teamed up with Corky Burger to start a concert promotion business.
Weinstein and Burger founded the business, called Harvey and Corky Productions, with a $2,500 loan, according to The Buffalo News. The company arranged shows for the likes of Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, and Stephen Stills at The Century Theater in Buffalo, The Buffalo News reported. It also purchased a nightclub that hosted The Police, Aerosmith, and U2.
Bob Weinstein later joined his brother in Buffalo, booking film screenings in the theater between concerts, he wrote in Vanity Fair.
In 1979, Weinstein and his brother created the small independent film-distribution company Miramax, a portmanteau of their parents' names.
The company was known for its "art house films," that were "films of high quality, but most of them sorely lacking in bankable stars," Bob Weinstein wrote in Vanity Fair.
"Miramax virtually created the art house boom in the 1990s by turning offbeat and inexpensive movies like 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Shakespeare in Love' into mainstream hits," The New York Times said in 2010.
Miramax began growing its successful business in the 1980s.
The 1988 release of "The Thin Blue Line" raised Miramax's public profile, according to Slate. The documentary focused on a man named Randall Adams who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Miramax got the documentary into fewer than 100 theaters, but a public petition asking for screenings increased its exposure, "Thin Blue Line" director Errol Morris told Slate in 2016.
The resulting press coverage helped Adams secure his release from prison less than a year after the film came out, The New York Daily News reported at the time.
In 1989, with the release of Steven Soderbergh's "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," Miramax became the most successful independent studio in America.
The film is also credited with establishing the Sundance Film Festival and Soderbergh's directing career, according to IndieWire.
In 1993, Disney bought Miramax for about $60 million. The Weinsteins continued to run the company and cemented numerous successful launches.
"The first movie I green-lighted after Disney was 'Pulp Fiction," Harvey Weinstein told New York Magazine in 1998. "I think that turned the corner on the business."
"Pulp Fiction" made over $213 million at the worldwide box office on a budget of only $8 million, Box Office Mojo reports.
Several movies that came out of Miramax were met with substantial critical acclaim, including "Clerks," "The English Patient," "Good Will Hunting," and "Shakespeare in Love."
Weinstein won a best picture Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love" in 1998. He was nominated for another best picture Oscar for "Gangs of New York" in 2002 and multiple Emmys for "Project Runway," in addition to winning a Tony award for "The Producers," according to IMDB.
Weinstein became the public face of Miramax.
"Harvey tapped into his inner showman and became the voice these small jewels needed to win the recognition they deserved," Bob Weinstein wrote in Vanity Fair.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein began choosing and marketing their films separately — Harvey under the Miramax banner and Bob under Dimension Films.
Dimension contained the company's more commercial movies, like the "Scream," "Spy Kids" and "Scary Movie" franchises. Bob Weinstein's Dimension films "routinely made more money than all but Harvey's biggest hits," The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni and Gregg Kilday wrote in 2017.
In 2005, the brothers announced they would leave Miramax to form a production company called The Weinstein Company.
The Weinsteins "had big ambitions that never came to fruition" for their shared venture, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Goldman Sachs arranged $1 billion in outside investments to get the company off the ground, according to Forbes.
While at Miramax and The Weinstein Company, the Weinsteins received 341 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards, according to the company's site.
Together, Bob and Harvey owned about half of The Weinstein Company, Forbes reported in 2015. The magazine estimated at the time that each of their stakes in the TWC were worth $130 million.
However, financial problems have followed the company since 2009.
The Weinstein Company was in a financial crisis in 2009, but it "avoided bankruptcy with a painful debt and asset restructuring," The New York Times reported in 2015.
In 2010, the Walt Disney Company agreed to sell Miramax to an investor group for $660 million. The Weinsteins attempted to regain control of Miramax but were unsuccessful, The Times reported.
TWC also made several bad investments, according to Forbes, including in now-defunct social network ASmallWorld and fashion brand Halston.
While Weinstein's work has accumulated critical acclaim, he has been accused of sexually harassing women and promising career advancements in return for sexual favors, The New York Times' Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey reported in 2017.
The Times reported in October 2017 that Weinstein had reached at least eight settlements with women over the years. Actress Ashley Judd told the paper that while she was shooting "Kiss the Girls" in 1998, Weinstein tried to get her into his hotel for a meeting and to force her to watch him shower.
"How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?" she told The Times of what she recalled thinking.
Weinstein said in a statement to The Times: "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons." Weinstein denied all wrongdoing and said he planned to sue The Times for $50 million for "reckless reporting."
The next week, Ronan Farrow published an article in The New Yorker in which three women accused Weinstein of rape. Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also came forward and said Weinstein sexually harassed them in the past, detailing their stories to The Times.
Amid intense public scrutiny, The Weinstein Company's board fired Harvey Weinstein days later.
The company went bankrupt less than a year later, Reuters reported.
Dallas-based private equity firm Lantern Entertainment purchased TWC's assets for $310 million in May 2018, according to CNN. The purchase price was "just a fraction of how much the company was worth before the sexual misconduct scandal that toppled its founder Harvey Weinstein," CNN's Chris Isidore wrote.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the company in 2018, alleging that the company knew of Weinstein's misconduct and chose not to respond, Reuters reported at the time. That lawsuit was included in a tentative $25 million settlement agreement reported by The New York Times in December.
Though more than 80 women publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, he was convicted of just two counts: third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act.
After a weeks-long trial in Manhattan, a jury acquitted Weinstein of the most serious charge - predatory sexual assault, Insider reported. He faced up to 29 years in prison but was sentenced to 23.
The former producer also faces criminal charges in California. In her press conference, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the case in Los Angeles would proceed once Weinstein's trial in New York had finished, Insider reported.
Weinstein reportedly contacted the novel coronavirus while in prison.
Officials told the Niagara Gazette reported on Sunday that Weinstein was one of two inmates at the maximum-security prison who had tested positive for the virus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19.