Rob Cristofaro is the ex-boyfriend of Real Housewives of New York City star Leah McSweeney, who joined the cast for season 12. Cristofaro and McSweeney co-parent their 12-year-old daughter, named Keir Marie.
Though they have not been in a romantic relationship since their daughter was a baby, the two have a healthy friendship and McSweeney even refers to him on RHONY as one of her best friends. Cristofaro helped McSweeney launch her clothing company, Married to the Mob. According to Cristofaro’s LinkedIn profile, he still assists the company in a creative capacity.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Rob Cristofaro Co-Founded the Streetwear Brand Alife In 1999
Rob Cristofaro was well known in the streetwear industry years before Leah McSweeney debuted her Married to the Mob brand. In 1999, Cristofaro launched Alife with three business partners. He explained to HighSnobiety in 2014 that the entity began as a creative workshop before evolving into a clothing brand.
“The primary motivation for starting the company was to spread our love of product, art, lifestyle and quality to whoever wanted to come for the ride,” Cristofaro explained. “We were just a platform to introduce you or your product to the world. It was a very creative wave that we were riding in the Lower East Side of NYC. I am a NYer and I pride myself on the knowledge and NY perspective that I practice, live and study daily. The artists that we curated were people who were experts in their perspective fields.”
According to its website, Alife sells men’s clothing, sneakers and accessories. Interview magazine wrote in 2019 that over its two-decade history, Alife became “synonymous with a certain Lower East Side aesthetic shaped by the convergence of late-90’s skate culture, graffiti, and hip-hop.” The brand has collaborated with major retailers such as Reebok, Adidas, and Crocs over the years as well.
2. Cristofaro’s Lower East Side Property Became a Hub For Up-and-Coming Musicians Such as Drake, Nas, Travis Scott & John Mayer
Rob Cristofaro’s company Alife began as a creative workshop and it continued to inspire artists and musicians even after evolving into a clothing brand. Cristofaro explained in an interview with SlamXHype that when he lost the lease for the storefront on Orchard Street in 2004, he moved Alife to Rivington Street in the Lower East Side.
Cristofaro explained the new property was smaller and therefore did not allow the brand to continue to display visual artwork as it has before. But he gained a backyard. Private outdoor property is rare in Manhattan and the space quickly attracted up-and-coming musicians looking to hone their craft and test it before a live audience.
Cristofaro explained the first Alife Session came to life through a “graffiti buddy” of his named John Matos, who worked on guitars for Eric Clapton. Matos recommended that Cristofaro meet with a guitarist named John Mayer. Cristofaro explained that after meeting Mayer, they decided to put together a musical event. Mayer partnered with hip hop record producer Just Blaze, and they free-styled together. Cristofaro said more than 60 people came to that first session, and Alife Sessions grew from there.
Other artists who ended up performing at the space included Drake, Travis Scott, Nas, and Three 6 Mafia. In the clip embedded above, a portion of Mayer’s session with Young Blaze begins at 4:22.
3. Rob Cristofaro Grew Up In Upstate New York & Described Himself as a Graffiti Artist
Rob Cristofaro was born in December 1970 and raised in upstate New York. He told the New York Times that he spent his childhood in White Plains and Yonkers in Westchester County. He attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for college, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Cristofaro said he was always interested in art and “wrote graffiti coming up.” He explained to Freshness magazine that he sees parallels between graffiti artists and marketing campaigns. “Today, mega-brands are doing the same thing we used to do—taking spots and putting up visual communications. A large amount of outdoor media locations were birthed from a graffiti artist finding a spot that demanded attention.”
In 2013, Cristofaro branched out into the marketing world by founding his company Rob Projects. He described it as a creative agency that focuses on promoting clients that are involved in art and fashion. He told Freshness, “My clients are brands or individuals that I believe in 100% for bringing something new into the scene which I believe is lacking.”
4. Rob Cristofaro & Leah McSweeney Purchased a Property In the Catskill Mountains Together
Rob Cristofaro and Leah McSweeney have never been married and broke up many years ago, but they purchased a property together in the Catskill Mountains. According to a search of online records, the pair bought a small home in Barryville, New York, in 2008 for $305,000. The property was built that year as well and sits on more than three acres of private land.
However, it is unclear whether McSweeney has remained a co-owner or not. A search of property records in Sullivan County shows only Cristofaro’s name on the document as of 2010. The document indicates he “bought” the property from himself for only $1.
Cristofaro talked about the property in an interview with the New Order magazine. “I have a retreat in the mountains of upstate New York that is small, surrounded by nature and houses some of my most personal possessions. This is where I recharge and detox from the constant bombardment of creative and business.”
5. Rob Cristofaro Says the Birth of His Daughter Changed His Outlook On Life
Rob Cristofaro and Leah McSweeney dated for a few years before breaking up in 2008. Their daughter, Kier Marie, was born in 2007. They call her Kiki for short, according to their respective Instagram pages.
Cristofaro told New Order magazine that becoming a father shifted his entire world for the better. “I would have to say the day that my daughter came into my world. It is the step up from boy to man. Clarity sets in and it became time to level up.”
During the first episode of season 12, McSweeney explained that she and Cristofaro remained best friends even though they had not been together romantically since Kier was a toddler. McSweeney added that they saw each other multiple times per week and even go grocery shopping together. Kier will turn 13 in June 2020.