Luann de Lesseps Says She Tried to Borrow $6 Million from Dennis Shields Before His Death
"I had to relearn in rehab the second time around that alcohol is a greater power than me," Luann de Lesspes said on Wednesday's RHONY
The revelation came on Wednesday’s Real Housewives of New York City, when the cabaret star reunited with the women who staged her intervention (including Frankel, Friend of the Housewives Barbara Kavovit, and guest Ann Cutbill Lenane) for a dinner at Almond Bridgehampton.
At the time she asked Shields for the cash, de Lesseps was attempting to buy a $6 million, 8,000 square feet “mega-mansion” in upstate New York.
“I was fixed on it. I had to have it, I was manic,” de Lesseps explained of the property. “Believe me, I called everybody I knew for $6 million. There weren’t many on the list, and Dennis was one of them.”
“I wanted that house more than anything,” she added. “I would have sold my soul at that point. That’s how bad it was.”
One of the other things de Lesseps tried to do was sell her $8 million Sag Harbor house. The move caused her children — daughter Victoria and son Noel — to band together with her dad, Alexandre, to file a lawsuit against her preventing the sale.
Ultimately, the humiliation and pain of that experience caused the Countess to relapse, she said.
“I had been sober for months and gradually, I had a little glass of wine here, a little glass of wine there. And then having this lawsuit with my kids was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” de Lesseps told audiences on Wednesday. “I polished off two bottles of rosé and that still wasn’t enough.”
Before she knew it, Frankel, Kavovit and Cutbill Lenane stepped in to help.
The women said they had been watching de Lesseps behavior and were getting worried. “That night on intervention weekend, there was an emergency. Luann had been making a lot of irrational financial decisions,” Frankel explained.
According to the SkinnyGirl maven, de Lesseps was persistent about getting the money she needed. “She got mad at me and was telling everyone, ‘Bethenny is a bad person because she won’t give me $6 million for this house,'” Frankel recalled. “I was like, ‘Okay…’ ”
“It was, ‘Hey call me back, I need $6 million,'” Cutbill Lenane remembered to de Lesseps. “We’re watching you doing email, but we know the code to your phone. So we would then go ahead and email back, ‘Do not do that, disregard that last email.’ ”
To stop de Lesseps, it took a group effort. “We all realized enough was enough,” Kavovit said. “We called the attorneys, I got power of attorney. Bethenny blocked calls. We blocked emails and that was it. If Luann refused to get help we were literally going to strap her down, put her in a car, and bring her to rehab. She had no choice.”
Frankel also worked with the press, speaking exclusively to PEOPLE to pass on the messaging that de Lesseps would be returning to rehab and missing the filming of the season 10 reunion.
“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 the reunion taping so that she can continue in her healing process,” Frankel said at the time. “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.”
“Bravo has been very supportive of Luann during this time. It’s a brave and honest decision by her, and everyone is rallying around her and wants the best for her,” Frankel added.
Since returning from rehab, de Lesseps had enjoyed a string of sold-out cabaret performances — #CountessAndFriends, currently at New York City’s Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Wednesday’s episode was filmed at her 55-day sober mark. “In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get [the house],” de Lesseps said. “I had to relearn in rehab the second time around that alcohol is a greater power than me.”
She then raised her non-alcoholic drink to toast her friends. “I owe you for the rest of my life,” she said.
“That’s the thing, you don’t,” Frankel quipped. “When one member of the team is down, the whole team is down.”
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.