How Real Housewives Of New York Alum Bethenny Frankel Reportedly Knew Of Erika Jayne And Tom Girardi's Financial Problems Before The Rest Of Us

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(Image credit: Bravo)

Throughout her eight-season tenure on Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel created a very concrete persona around blunt honesty. As Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer know all too well, Frankel doesn't mince words, even for friends. Neither for Real Housewives franchise alums, it would seem. She left the show that brought her notoriety for bigger and better waters, but she still apparently has time to read Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne. Frankel, true to form, flat-out claimed that Erika Jayne and her husband Tom Girardi’s financial problems were actually known a long time ago.

It’s curious because the general public has only known about Tom Girardi's issues – which include his law firm allegedly being in over $100 million of debt – since late last year. In the intervening months, his wife Erika Jayne has also been embroiled in the legal drama and even been sued for funds she reportedly used that she knew were stolen. Erika Jayne has denied knowledge or involvement in the supposed crimes on the currently airing season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but Real Housewives of New York alum Bethenny Frankel claims otherwise. On a recent episode of her podcast, Frankel stated that she got information about the Girardis through her late ex-fiancé Dennis Shields:

Dennis said to me, ‘[Tom] 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. 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. … I said, ‘Why would he do that?’ He goes, ‘He can’t say no to [Erika].

Apparently, others beside Dennis Shields knew about what was going on. Bethenny Frankel revealed that she had a conversation with Shields and an unnamed “billionaire lawyer” about Erika Jayne and Tom Girardi’s lavish lifestyle. The lawyer reportedly was shocked by how much was spent on Erika Jayne’s notorious glam squad because he supposedly knew Girardi owed money and was “being sued by everybody.” Frankel stated that she relayed the information to Erika Jayne’s makeup artist and even Real Housewives executive producer and host Andy Cohen at the time.

The Real Housewives of New York star has in fact claimed it was a “well-known secret” in the world of lawyers. Yet Bravo fans wouldn’t know it until last December when the allegations came out. Bethenny Frankel had never spoken publicly about her knowledge before, not even when she appeared briefly alongside Erika Jayne in a previous season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But Frankel indicated that she is used to Erika Jayne’s type, saying,

My experience is — especially with the Housewives, but really, everywhere as well — if someone’s flaunting their money, they don’t really have it. Particularly on Beverly Hills, there have been a lot of ‘all show and no go’ girls. The more that they flaunt it and the more that they brag about it, usually there’s something wrong.

On this season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Erika Jayne has been adamant that she didn't know about Tom Girardi's financial woes before filing for divorce. However, she did allege that after a car accident in 2017, she noticed Girardi having a “mental decline.” Her costars, notably Sutton Stracke, don't seem to believe her telling of events, the latest of which features Girardi fighting off a burglar at their house and her son flipping his car five or six times afterward.

Bethenny Frankel’s testimony marks the first time that someone has provided some kind of indication that Erika Jayne might have known about Tom Girardi's problems way before she's been saying. If true, it is possible that Erika Jayne’s troubles might get worse.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.