Now that Giuseppe and Arrigo Cipriani have pleaded guilty to tax fraud and will pay $10 million in back taxes, questions have been raised about whether their family-owned catering and restaurant empire will be able to keep its liquor license. The possibility that they might have to sell has whetted the appetites of investors and restaurateurs. Among those who, sources say, are expressing interest in the operation (which includes several restaurants, the Rainbow Room, catering halls in midtown and on Wall Street, and Harry’s Bar in Venice) is the Blackstone Group. “I introduced my friends at Blackstone to the Ciprianis,” says the Ciprianis’ attorney, Stanley Arkin, emphasizing that it was a social affair, not business. “I have a lot of friends there and I suggested that they speak, but there has been no negotiation. There is no doubt in my mind that the Ciprianis will not lose their liquor license. They have extraordinary plans for the future.” A spokesman for the Blackstone Group did not return calls, and Cipriani-group spokesman Paul Wilmot declined to comment.
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