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Fans Troll Aoki Lee Simmons’ Estranged Dad Russell for Her PDA With Vittorio Assaf, 65

Aoki Lee Simmons’ exiled and estranged hip-hop mogul father Russell Simmons is being firmly “blamed” for her “insane” romance with a man 43 years her senior.

In images that shocked the world, Aoki, 21, and restaurateur Vittorio Assaf, 65, were seen packing on the PDA during a trip to St. Barts.

The pair was spotted on Tuesday, April 2, kissing on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, according to photos obtained by Page Six. The Serafina co-owner then took photos of the model as she posed in the sand before they took a dip in the ocean together.

A source confirmed their relationship to People on Friday, April 5, saying they’re “enjoying each others’ company.”

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Aoki is the youngest daughter of music legend Russell, 66, and model and mogul, Kimora Lee Simmons, 48. Assaf, for his part, hails from Milan, Italy, and has been a staple in the New York restaurant world since confounding Serafina Restaurant Group.

After images of their PDA emerged, there was flurry of outrage from fans and even her mom Kimora seemingly showed her disapproval of the union by reposting a since-deleted video of a mother panda furiously pulling away her baby cub with her teeth and wrote: “On my last nerve right now!”

Russell Simmons blamed for daughter Aoki Lee's romance with Vittorio Assaf, 64
Aoki Lee, Vittorio Assaf and Russell Simmons Spread Pictures/MEGA / Bennett Raglin/WireImage

However, Kimora’s embattled ex-husband, Russell, whom she was married to from 1998 to 2009, had a decidedly different response sharing a throwback snap of Aoki from June 2022 along with a heartfelt message about his “unconditional love” for her.

He recalled that they had an “all-around amazing day” last Father’s Day, the day before a now infamous viral video showing him berating his daughter and bringing her to tears during a FaceTime call.

But while the music legend threw support behind his child, and has continued to do so with more Instagram posts over the weekend, it has only served to put him under fire.

Aoki Lee Simmons, 21, and Restaurateur Vittorio Assaf, 64,
Aoki Lee Simmons, 21, ‘loved up’ with Vittorio Assaf, 65, Spread Pictures/MEGA

The entrepreneur, who has been in self-imposed exile in Bali for the past few years following a barrage of historical sexual assault allegations made against him, has boasted about dating a string of women his daughter’s age as an older man and according to ex Kimora Lee started dated her when she was a teenager in the industry.

His gushing posts about Aoki have consequently been met with condemnation from followers who have branded him an “enabler” and a “deadbeat dad” who caused Aoki Lee’s “daddy issues”.

“This is your fault Russell. You shouldn’t be enabling this. The man is your age and you see nothing wrong!” said one follower in his comments section. Another wrote: “You’re to blame for this insane s-t.

“You ran away to Bali after being accused of misconduct and left your daughter at a crucial age when she needs guidance and now are posting pics of her. You and Aoki don’t even speak.”

A third wrote: “These are textbook daddy issues for Aoki. I remember you made that poor girl cry and then you doubled down after it was made public. She’s got another daddy now. Stand back!”

While a fourth added: “You should be outraged about this. Not posting sweet pics like you approve. She’s a grown woman yes, but this is blatantly a cry for help and her looking for an older man to guide her because you aren’t in her life.”

Aoki’s family made headlines in June, 2023 when her older sister, Ming Lee Simmons, Russell and Kimora’s other daughter, shared a Father’s Day tribute to Kimora, without addressing Russell.

Russell subsequently took to Instagram, seemingly alleging that Kimora interfered in his relationship with his kids. “Stop telling fathers they should have fought harder to see their children and start asking mothers why he had to fight at all,” read a quote he shared at the time.

Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee, with daughters Ming (L) and Aoki (R) in 2005
Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee with Ming (L) and Aoki (R) in 2005 Shane Gritzinger/FilmMagic

Aoki later chimed in, publicly refuting Russell’s claims. “My father is not well, for years, he needs help and won’t accept that he refuses to acknowledge he is not himself,” she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram note, posting screenshots of their past texts.

“He has threatened and bullied my sister, my grandma… He lashes out at ANYONE who does not say, ‘Ooh Russell everything is fine.’ Well it’s not fine.”

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Aoki even accused her father of verbal abuse, which Russell has denied. Kimora, for her part, fervently supported her daughter speaking out via her Instagram Story. Last September Aoki said she felt proud of how she handled her infamous public drama with her father earlier that year.

“I don’t regret it,” she told Teen Vogue at the time referring to her decision to call out her dad online. “Part of it was already out there. There were reasons I thought it was reasonable to publish because it was playing out in, like, a silent bubble.”

Russell issued a public apology to both Aoki and Ming, 23, later that month. “God is testing you a little bit, it’s OK, be strong,” he wrote via Instagram. “They are called growing pains … as you know, we grow through adversity and struggle … you read my books and heard me preach your whole childhood … reach back to old lessons and remember to remember ‘smile and breathe’ ❤️ ‘smile and breathe’ … you are the watchers of this world … so let go … be at ease…”

Aoki also told Teen Vogue that she has learned to cope with not being close to her dad. “[A celebrity I recently met was] like, ‘Oh, I saw your thing. I did the same thing when I was, like, 20, and it was fine.’”

She insisted hers is a “normal family” despite their public drama, but declined to comment on the multiple sexual misconduct claims made against her father, which he has also denied. Russell was accused of assault by 18 women in 2018.

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