Bethenny Frankel Says She Heard About Erika Girardi's Ex Tom's Financial Troubles 4 Years Ago
During Thursday's episode of her Just B iHeartRadio podcast, the former Real Housewives of New York City star, 50, brought up the estranged couple while discussing stars who have been "canceled" or "demoted" over the years.
Frankel — who asserted that Erika, 50, has been "semi-demoted" due to the scandal — said she hasn't been watching the drama unfold on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills this season, but claimed she has a "specific perspective" on Erika and Tom's situation due to her ex-fiancé Dennis Shields. Shields, who died in 2018 at age 51, knew Tom, 82, because they both worked in the legal space.
After learning years ago that Erika was "spending a crazy amount of money" — including $40,000 a month on glam — Frankel, who felt that lifestyle would be "hard to sustain," brought it up with Shields.
"Dennis said to me, 'He doesn't have it like that. He owes me money. He owes me half a million dollars. I know this other guy he owes a million and a half dollars. He doesn't have money. He owes everybody money,'" Frankel claimed. "And I go, 'What are you talking about? How is she flying around on [private planes]?' And he said, 'It's because he's using people's money to support her lifestyle. He's using the company's money to support her lifestyle.' Dennis said this. And I said, 'What are you talking about?'"
"And Dennis was like, 'Yeah, no, he owes me money and it aggravates everybody,'" she continued. "I said, 'Why would he do that?' He goes, 'He can't say no to her.'"
Frankel said Tom's financial issues were a "widely known best-kept secret" in the legal industry. She then recalled a conversation Shields had with an unnamed "billionaire lawyer" about the matter.
"When Dennis [told the lawyer] ... 'Do you know Erica Jayne spends $50,000 a month on her hair and her makeup?' The guy was like, 'What? He owes everybody money. He's being sued by everybody,'" she said. "So it was a thing. So I knew about it."
"That's just what happens. Things take a long time to come out — but everybody in that industry knew about it. All these major lawyers that I'm talking about around the country that are in this industry, they all knew about it," she continued. "And I told [Erika's makeup artist] Kristofer Buckle about it. I told Andy Cohen about it, just to say, 'It's not what you think.'"
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"So when this came out ... Andy [Cohen] called me. He goes, 'Holy s---. You really do know it all. You told me about this years ago,'" she said. "I'm like, 'Yeah, I told you. You know, #IKnowItAll. So I knew about this whole thing. I knew since, yeah, probably 2017 and 2018, I knew about this."
Frankel, who said she doesn't know Erika "well," went on to criticize stars within the Housewives franchise flaunting their wealth.
"For some people, it works out. The money that you're making catches up with the way that you're spending. But for others, it doesn't and that's a dangerous game. If people are flaunting and showing a lot of what they have, very often it's all show and no go," she said. "And people are just so tempted. They must, they must show a lifestyle. And you cannot create a life out of a lifestyle. You can create a lifestyle out of a life but you can't lifestyle your way into a life. And I think that people just get so tempted to show everything and say everything instead of just keeping quiet. And that's so much stronger."
Shortly after Erika filed for divorce from Tom in November 2020, the estranged couple was hit with a lawsuit accusing them of embezzling funds from families who lost loved ones in a 2018 Boeing plane crash. Tom was also later sued by his business partners, resulting in a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. (The creditors in the bankruptcy case include Tom's former law partner, Robert Keese, former business partners Robert Finnerty and Jill O'Callahan as well as some of the retired attorney's former clients.)
Erika has also been accused of conspiring with Tom and using her "notoriety" to hide assets as a bankruptcy trustee continues to investigate Tom and his firm.
Earlier this year, the drama was explored in a Hulu documentary titled The Housewife and the Hustler.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.