The apparent suicide of Russell Armstrong — the estranged husband of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Taylor Armstrong — has sparked a massive amount of interest in his life, family, and business dealings.
While the details of Armstrong's death are still forthcoming, the late investor's history of financial ups and downs has been well documented. Armstrong was a venture capitalist who had apparently fallen on hard times.
According to celebrity site TMZ, Armstrong's lawyer, Ronald Richards, remarked that his client had large debt problems. According to Richards, Armstrong's "credit cards weren't working. … As far as a will, even if he does have a will, they don't have any assets, so I'm not sure what there would be left to leave." But the worries weren't only financial. Russell was also depressed about his looming divorce.
Last month, Taylor told People magazine that she and Russell had had a series of arguments. She accused Russell of shoving her. Russell told People that the show "pushed us to the limit." That comment and several others are sure to lead to questions about whether the "Real Housewives" program should be canceled. Armstrong, who was 47, leaves behind Taylor, as well as three children.
Before starring on the reality show about pampered wives in posh Beverly Hills, Russell Armstrong worked as a professional investor. According to his official site (which may suffer outages due to massive clicks), "Russell Armstrong has spent the past two decades as an investment banker and venture capitalist, where he has been instrumental in the development of over 200 businesses with early stage funding in excess of $2B dollars."
While that paints a picture of a secure and successful man, Armstrong was actually under considerable financial pressure. In July, he was hit with a $1.5 million lawsuit for breach of contract. The suing company claimed "it had hired him to expand its business but alleged he had misused the funds to redecorate the mansion he shared with his wife."
He also ran afoul of the law in 1997 when he he was convicted of felony tax evasion. Armstrong was sentenced to five years of probation. In 2001, he was accused of "fraud, negligent misrepresentation, statutory securities violations and breach of fiduciary duties." Starcasm.net hosts a PDF of the lawsuit.
Russell's marriage to Taylor Armstrong was his second. Together they had a daughter, Kennedy, who is five years old. Russell also had two teenage sons from a previous marriage. Taylor's "Real Housewives" co-stars have reacted to the sad news, voicing their support for Taylor and pleading for privacy on her behalf.