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Mario Batali sells stake in his restaurant group after sexual misconduct allegations

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 06, 2019

Embattled celebrity chef Mario Batali has sold his stake in the chain of restaurants that helped to make him famous, more than a year after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

The sale was confirmed by both Batali and the restaurant company, formerly known as Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group. It will adopt a new name that has not yet been announced.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the company said it was actively negotiating to buy Batali's stake. Terms of the sale were not disclosed by the privately held company.

Batali is "now fully divested" from the business, said Tanya Bastianich Manuali and Joe Bastianich in an email Wednesday to the employees of the group's 16 restaurants. Six other restaurants — one in New York, two in Asia and three in Las Vegas — have closed in the past year. The note said it had been a "challenging year" for the company.

In a statement to CNN Business, Batali said he has reached an agreement with Joe Bastianich and no longer has any stake in the restaurants.

"I wish him the best of luck in the future," Batali said.

Batali stepped away from the restaurant business in December 2017, when the restaurant news website Eater published an investigation that included allegations of misconduct. Eater's report included accounts of four women who claimed that Batali "touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades."

At that time, Batali said he was "deeply sorry."

"I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt," Batali said. "That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."

Months later, New York police confirmed to CNN that the agency was investigating allegations against Batali raised in a report on "60 Minutes." Women who worked in restaurants associated with Batali told CNN that inappropriate behavior was commonplace.

Batali pushed back more strongly. "I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions," he said at the time.

"My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions," he added.

The New York Police Department closed its investigations in January without filing charges .

Batali also faces a civil lawsuit in Massachusetts that was filed by one of the women who has made accusations against him. That case is still pending.