Authorities say the New Zealand-born actor, 41, was upset that he could not place a call to Australia on his phone at the Mercer Hotel in SoHo. Police also say that the employee required stitches to mend a facial bruise.
Crowe was charged with second-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. In requesting $5,000 bail, prosecutors said that the actor "admitted to throwing the phone."
However, Crowe's attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, said, "My client was trying to call his wife in Australia. He has never been arrested in this country, (so) for purposes of bail there's no question he will appear (in court) to deal with this."
In a statement to the TV show Extra, Crowe publicist Robin Baum added: "Frustrated by a clerk's unwillingness to help him put through a phone call to his family in Australia, Russell Crowe was involved in a minor altercation at the Mercer Hotel earlier this morning. After asking the front desk several times to replace a faulty phone in his room – and getting only attitude from the clerk on duty – Crowe brought the phone down to the front desk in an effort to address the situation in person. Words were exchanged, and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper, but at no time did he assault anyone or touch any hotel employee."
Crowe did not speak to reporters as he left the courtroom and climbed inside an awaiting black SUV that drove him away.
Crowe, who is in New York to promote his new movie Cinderella Man (which debuted in disappointing 4th place in the weekend box office race, with an estimated $18.6 million), is no stranger to making news for having had heated encounters.
At the 2002 Bafta Awards in London, he admitted to being "abusive" and "behaving unreasonably" towards a TV producer who cut short his acceptance speech. Later that same year police reportedly reprimanded him following an alleged skirmish with a New Zealand businessman in a London restaurant.