Inside Luann de Lesseps' Ups and Downs, from a Cabaret Comeback to Her Return to Rehab
Here's a look back at the highs and lows of the reality star's life in the spotlight
“This weekend, Luann was surrounded by her girlfriends and decided — with their support — that in light of recent circumstances, it is the healthiest choice for her not to attend Tuesday’s reunion taping so that she can continue in her healing process,” Bethenny Frankel, whom de Lesseps authorized to speak on her behalf, told PEOPLE on Monday. “Luann is now surrounded by a core group of people who truly have her best interests at heart and who are working to make sure she gets the help she needs.”
Last year, de Lesseps attended an alcohol treatment program after her December arrest.
Here’s a look back at the highs and lows of the reality star’s life in the spotlight.
Becoming a Countess
De Lesseps married her first husband, European aristocrat Count Alexandre de Lesseps, in 1993 after only two weeks of dating.
But after two children and 17 years of marriage, the two called it quits in 2009.
Having been privately separated for three months, de Lesseps said she learned the divorce was moving forward when her ex-husband sent her a shocking email: “It said that he had met someone,” she recalled to PEOPLE in 2009, “and they were serious.”
“I was devastated,” she said. “I knew that we were kind of separating, but I was hoping that things were going to work out.”
The reality star said the divorce took a hit on her confidence.
“You can try all you want,” she said. “But if you’re not getting reciprocation from the other person, it’s not your fault.”
The Car Crash
While seeking treatment the first time, the Real Housewives of New York City star realized that a 1999 car accident factored into her drinking problem.
“I came down a mountainside in Switzerland,” she previously told PEOPLE. “I thought I killed myself and my children.
At the time, her kids Victoria and Noel were just 4 and 2, respectively.
“I never really faced that horrific accident, and through that and everything else, my emotions just crept up on me and drove me to the point of self-medicating with alcohol,” she said.
She said she later learned she was suffering from PTSD.
“I had PTSD, and I didn’t even know it because all those years ago PTSD was not a real thing, especially in Europe,” said the reality star, who attended high school in Berlin and worked in Milan. “Nobody had ever heard of PTSD when I had my car accident. I never really treated that horrific accident that happened to me.”
RHONY premiered in 2008, and de Lesseps used the reality show as a platform to launch her music career, releasing dance bops “Money Can’t Buy You Class” in 2011, “Chic, C’est la Vie” in 2011 and “Girl Code” in 2015.
Falling in Love
“I feel very lucky,” she said after meeting Azoulay, who appeared on RHONY throughout their relationship. “I never thought I would be lucky enough to find somebody like that again in my life.”
They remained close friends after the breakup, and he attended her second wedding.
Meeting and Marrying Tom
De Lesseps said her world changed when she first met Tom D’Agostino.
The two had a whirlwind romance and got engaged just three months after they started dating. During an episode of Real Housewives, de Lesseps confidently proclaimed that she had finally met her “soulmate.”
De Lesseps wed D’Agostino on Dec. 31, 2016, in a lavish, three-day celebration in Palm Beach, Florida, attended by several friends of the bride from the Housewives franchise.
“We got engaged after three months and then we got married a year after, so I thought, plenty of time, because I got married two weeks after I met my first husband and it lasted 17 years, so I thought, you know, this is how it works,” she told PEOPLE.
Her Second Divorce
But while her courtship with D’Agostino was short, their marriage proved to be even shorter.
After nearly eight months of marriage, de Lessep announced in August 2017 that she and D’Agostino — who had been a bachelor up until marrying the Real Housewives of New York City star — were divorcing. Throughout their whirlwind romance, de Lesseps defended D’Agostino against numerous cheating allegations, including being caught by a friend of costar Bethenny Frankel’s kissing a mysterious blonde at The Regency Hotel the day before his engagement party.
“When you love somebody, you have your blinders on,” de Lesseps, 52, said during an episode of The Wendy Williams Show.
“You fall hard quick, and I’m a very strong person, as a lot of you know, I’m pretty resilient, and so I thought I could handle it until the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore,” she said.
Of “the last straw” in their short-lived marriage, de Lesseps said it was a combination of things: “just between the women, the press, him going out, me getting phone calls, pictures of him at the same bars where he frequents all the time, which I asked him not to go to.”
“It just kept happening and I got to a certain point where I got totally fed up. I couldn’t do it anymore — I just couldn’t do it anymore,” de Lesseps said. “I was unhappy, and I think he was unhappy, too.”
She was arrested in the early morning hours of Dec. 24 and released on her own recognizance that same day after allegedly attacking a police officer in Palm Beach.
She was charged with and pleaded not guilty to disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer/firefighter/EMT, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. (She’s since pleaded not guilty and rejected a plea deal in February.)
The reality star had been discovered trespassing in a hotel room with an unidentified man, according to a police report. The pair had allegedly entered the wrong room at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach and refused to leave. Police say de Lesseps slammed a door and kicked at least one officer. She also allegedly told the police, “I’m going to kill you all.”
After her arrest, de Lesseps released a statement, saying, “This was my first time in Palm Beach since my wedding, and being here brought up long-buried emotions. I want to offer my sincere apologies to anyone I might have offended with my behavior. I am committed to a transformative and hopeful 2018.”
Checking Into Rehab
Following her divorce from the 51-year-old businessman, who she said she realized wouldn’t give up his “bachelor lifestyle,” de Lesseps said she began consuming at least seven alcoholic beverages a day.
“I would start with a martini and maybe have two martinis and then get into the wine at dinner,” she revealed to PEOPLE. “Then I’d have a little bit of vodka soda before going out. I would have the hair-of-the-dog drink the next day, and drink more, and it didn’t feel good.”
Days after her arrest, de Lesseps announced her plans to seek treatment.
“After the events … in Palm Beach, I am truly embarrassed,” de Lesseps said in a statement to PEOPLE. “I have decided to seek professional guidance and will be voluntarily checking into an alcohol treatment center. I intend to turn this unfortunate incident into a positive life-changing event. Once again, I sincerely apologize for my actions. I have the greatest respect for police officers and the job they do. My actions alleged in the police report do not reflect my core values and my law-abiding character.”
“I am so grateful for the love and support that I am receiving from my family, friends and loyal supporters,” she continued.
After rehab, Lesseps dedicated herself to show business, enjoying a string of sold-out cabaret performances called #CountessAndFriends at New York City’s Feinstein’s/54 Below.
“I had a list of songs but had to reconsider ‘Jailhouse Rock,’” she joked during her debut performance. That first audience included Michelle Collins, Sonja Morgan and Kelly Bensimon, as well as ex-boyfriend Azoulay.
The show, directed by Ben Rimalower and Billy Stritch, has continued to earn raved reviews.
Celebrating Her Sobriety
Earlier this month, de Lesseps said she was six months sober on Instagram.
“Greatest reunion ever!” she captioned a photo of her and the Count. “Wonderful to spend the weekend with the kids and The Count. Also counting my blessings! Celebrating 6 months of sobriety! Happy 4th of July, everyone! @noeldelesseps @victoriadelesseps #onedayatatime #lovemyfamily #grateful #rhony #countess.”
Sued by Her Family
Her decision to return to rehab came days after news broke that her first husband, her daughter and her son had filed a lawsuit against her over an $8 million house sale. According to court documents obtained by The Blast, she breached a stipulation of settlement in her divorce by failing to create a trust “for the benefit of her two children.”
“Recent additional family stress was a catalyst to her taking a break,” Frankel told PEOPLE.
Back to Rehab
On Monday, Bravo confirmed that de Lesseps is not taping the season 10 reunion as she seeks further treatment.
“Bravo supports Luann’s decision to focus on her health,” the network said in a statement to PEOPLE. “She is part of the Bravo family and we continue to stand by her as she copes with this challenging situation. At this time, we hope everyone will respect her privacy.”