Can Countess Luann Put the Pieces Back Together Now that She’s Off Probation?

Luann de Lesseps, the Countess of the Real Housewives of New York franchise, began her run on the show’s 2008 first season with an enviable family life. Her husband, Alexandre de Lesseps, was descended from a long line of French nobility, and their two children were thriving junior members of their jet-setting elite. Luann had long dreamed of a career in television. In fact, she and Alexandre met on the ski slopes of Gstaad, Sweden, after she had moved to Italy to work as a television soccer announcer. It is a credit to Luann’s charisma that at the time she knew nothing about soccer and did not speak Italian. 

Everything was going swimmingly for the newly-minted Bravo star – she was hard at work on her first book, Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair – when, in early 2009, she received an email from Alexandre. He told her that he was having an affair, and had in fact fallen in love with, Ethiopian Princess Kemeria Abajobir Abajifar, and wanted a divorce after 16 years of marriage. In a New York Times profile after the book’s launch, Luann expressed that she had worried that the book, which is partly a guide for how to get and keep a man, would be negatively impacted by the news of the divorce. To the contrary, her predicament elicited enormous sympathy from her audience, boosting both the show’s ratings and the book’s arrival in the world. Class with the Countess painted a picture of a prim and proper woman, and her on-screen persona projected a superiority over the other Housewives. In light of that, it’s especially interesting to see the direction that Luann has taken her life in the decade since the split. 

There was her foray into music, shaped and shifted by Autotune. Her first single was called Money Can’t Buy You Class, and along with a provocative video, certainly began the transition of Luann de Lesseps from nobility to flamboyant commoner to, as would come a few years later, an alcoholic cabaret singer fighting to stay out of jail after assaulting a police officer. There would also be another, extremely short-lived marriage, to tie it all together. 

By the time 2016 began, Luann was dating a new man, a Palm Beach-based businessman named Tom D’Agostino. Tom wasn’t new to the Housewives scene, having previously dated fellow cast member Ramona Singer following her divorce from her husband of 20-plus years, Mario Singer. Things moved extremely fast with the pair, and in February, Tom presented Luann an 8-carat diamond engagement ring. They had known each other all of nine months, following an introduction by another co-star, Dorinda Medley. If you’re thinking this relationship is headed for greatness, buckle up. Things get increasingly bumpy from here. 

First there were comments from Bethenny Frankel, another Housewife with a tough relationship history, who revealed that Tom had been sleeping with cast members for some time. This put distance between Luann and Bethenny, but did not stop the forward momentum of Luann and Tom, who announced that they would be marrying on New Year’s Eve, 2016, in Palm Beach. In August, Bethenny went so far as to share pictures with Luann that showed Tom making out with another woman. According to Bethenny, they were taken the night before a party to celebrate his engagement to Luann. 

With months still to go before the big day, Luann apparently decided to continue throwing caution to the wind, and the wedding remained on. But not on TV, it turned out, much to the chagrin of the producers at Bravo. Instead, she sold the rights to People for $20,000. A source close to RHONY told Page Six, “Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The wedding is the biggest storyline of the year for the show, and Bravo is furious.” 

Comfortably or not, Bravo got it over it. After all, Housewives watchers and the public at large all had a sense that the Tom-Luann romance may not have been all it was cracked up to be. In May, she shared a seemingly calm depiction of a perfect Hampton’s birthday, complete with getting out on the water in one of the two boats they have docked at Sag Harbor and some doubles tennis. On August 3, amid endless reports of Tom’s cheating and marital squabbling, the pair filed for divorce after just seven months of marriage. 

Fortunately for the drama drivers at Bravo, this was nowhere near the end of Luann’s very bad 2017. Days before Christmas, she returned to Palm Beach for the holidays, where she reportedly became incredibly intoxicated, refused to leave a hotel room which was not hers, and over the course of several hours, fought with police officers until she began issuing death threats and then struck at least one of them. She was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery of an officer, resisting arrest, and threatening a public servant, charges that could have landed her in prison for years. She checked herself into rehab and spent much of the year having her law firm negotiating a plea agreement with Florida prosecutors. 

Once that was in place, she nearly found herself back behind bars when she reported to her probation officer that she had consumed two mimosas after a performance of her touring cabaret show. Somehow, she talked the judge into giving her another chance, and in May, walked out of the courtroom after briefly being handcuffed. Finally, in August, her probation in Florida ended, and it appears that Luann has happily let go of sobriety now that there’s no risk of jail for enjoying a few drinks. 

She closed out the recent BravoCon event (starting an hour late, naturally) to rave reviews, and told People magazine that she’s “drinking responsibly again.” Other reports suggest the “responsible” part may be pretty flexible, but at least so far, Luann hasn’t made any headlines with her out of control antics. 

The Attorneys with Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino offer professional and affordable solutions for NYC residents seeking a divorce or other family law legal assistance.

Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino, PC
138-44 Queens Blvd #2
Queens, New York 11435

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