On The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Erika Girardi is known for her designer clothes, glamorous lifestyle, immense wealth, and pop star alter ego Erika Jayne, who sings about all of the above. But, on season 11 of RHOBH things are taking quite the turn for the Bravolebrity. Not long after filming for the new season began, Erika Girardi announced her impending divorce from husband, Tom Girardi. Not long after that, it came out that Girardi and her soon-to-be ex were being accused of embezzlement.
The whole scenario is pretty confusing and involves everything from cheating allegations to a claim that Tom withheld money from the families of plane crash victims. And while fans of RHOBH might have assumed Girardi wouldn't want to talk about any of this on camera, she addresses the scandal head-on is the preview for RHOBH season 11. The trailer is centered around the 49-year-old and shows her speaking directly about her divorce and the legal issues.
But the scenes we've been shown only serve to make the whole thing feel murkier. Between all the fashion, fun, and comments about "ugly leather pants," there's going to be a lot of serious business to unpack. Here's everything that's happened so far.
October 2020: RHOBH Started Filming Season 11
November 3, 2020: Erika Girardi Filed for Divorce
About a month after filming began, Erika publicly announced that she was filing for divorce from her husband after 21 years of marriage.
"After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi," she said in a statement to People. "This is not a step taken lightly or easily. I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together. It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserved. I request others give us that privacy as well."
December 2, 2020: Erika and Tom Girardi Were Accused of Embezzlement
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Girardi and husband Tom were accused by the Chicago law firm Edelson PC of allegedly embezzling money that was owed to the families of victims who were killed on Lion Air Flight 610. The Boeing 737 plane crash occurred in Indonesia in 2018, killing everyone on board, and Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded because of this crash. Tom and his law firm, Girardi Keese, represented victims' families in a case against Boeing; Edelson also represented victims' families.
The Edelson case claims that the Girardis embezzled the money in order to "project a public image of obscene wealth at all times, and at whatever the cost." The court filing even noted the Erika Jayne song "XXpen$ive" and Girardi's claim that keeping up with her looks and glam up costs $40,000 per month. The claims also include an accusation that the divorce filing "is a sham proceeding" supposedly meant to protect assets from creditors.
This lawsuit — which is the primary one talked about in the news and in the RHOBH trailer — is on top of other cases involving Tom. For instance, Us Weekly reported that the 81-year-old allegedly owes half a million dollars to the court reporting company he worked with. He's also being sued by three business partners who claim he owes them money. The Los Angeles Times reported that during a September testimony related to another client's funds, Tom said of his financial status, "At one point, I had about $80 million or $50 million in cash. That’s all gone."
December 14, 2020: Tom Girardi's Assets Were Frozen
On December 14, the Los Angeles Times reported that Tom's assets were frozen after a federal judge ruled that he misappropriated at least $2 million that was owed to the families of victims of the plane crash. The judge determined that the families did not receive the full amount of settlement money that they were due.
During the contempt hearing, Judge Thomas M. Durkin said, "No matter what your personal financial situation is, no matter what kind of pressures you are under, if you touch client money, you are going to be disbarred and quite possibly charged criminally." Durkin referred Tom to the U.S. attorney's office for criminal investigation and froze his assets. Tom's lawyers said that he did not possess $2 million, that Girardi Keese only had $15,000 in operating money, and that they had concerns about their client's mental wellbeing.
December 18, 2020: Erika Girardi Claimed Husband Tom Cheated on Her
As if the divorce and lawsuits weren't enough, in December, Erika claimed on Instagram that she found out Tom had cheated on her. On her Instagram, she posted screenshots of texts she claimed were between her husband and a judge. "This is Justice Tricia A. Bigelow. She was fucking my husband Tom Girardi and he was paying her Saks bill and paying for her plastic surgery," Erika wrote in the caption before deleting the post altogether. Us Weekly reported that the texts appear to be from 2011.
In response, via her lawyer, Bigelow claimed that Erika was "maliciously doxxing her" and that they were "considering our options to protect Justice Bigelow from further harassment."
February 2: Tom Girardi Was Placed Under a Temporary Conservatorship
In February, Entertainment Tonight reported that Tom was placed under a temporary conservatorship with his brother, Robert Girardi, as his conservator. Court documents obtained by ET said that Tom was suffering from short-term memory loss and that his condition "has sadly deteriorated to the point where he cannot care for himself without assistance." Tom was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to People.
April 12, 2021: The RHOBH Season 11 Trailer Wass Released
Girardi hasn't always been the most open cast member on RHOBH, so fans were expecting not to hear much about her legal troubles. But, when the trailer for the new season was released on April 12, it proved everyone wrong.
Of the divorce, she says in the trailer, "I did not see it ending this way. I was going to hold that man’s hand 'til he died." When asked by Garcelle Beauvais if she was given a head's up about the lawsuits and if that is why she chose to divorce, Girardi says, "No, I did not." Lastly, Kyle Richards asks, "Did you know any of this?" And while the definition of "this" is left pretty vague, Girardi says, "No one knows the answer, but him."
May 19, 2021: RHOBH Season 11 Premieres
And that brings us to the premiere of season 11 with everything still hanging in the balance when it comes to the Girardis' lawsuits. The trailer appears to only show what happened in Girardi's life through December, so there could be much more about the ongoing scandal to be revealed as the season airs. One thing's for sure, the pop singer won't have an easy time at the reunion this year.
Refinery29 reached out to a lawyer for Tom Girardi and a representative for Erika Girardi for comment, but did not receive a response.