Russell Armstrong was $1.3 million in debt when he committed suicide

On the first season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Taylor Armstrong threw two lavish parties. One was a “mad hatter” themed event for her daughter’s fourth birthday in which she held essentially two separate parties, with the adults’ party being much more lavish and well planned and some performers coming in for the children, who were decidedly less entertained Taylor’s big gift to her daughter was a gold and diamond Disney necklace, which impressed the child much less than the puppy her dad gave her which she ended up being allergic to. The cost for the party was over $60,000.

It’s unknown how much Taylor paid to throw the other party, a 20s-themed bash for which she rented an authentic dress from the era and hired a hairdresser and makeup artist to come to her house to prep her. She narrated in that episode “If you want to keep pace in Beverly hills you have to throw parties that people will talk about.” Well it turns out that all the financial stress from throwing money around to impress people was plunging Taylor’s husband into even more debt and despair. As I mentioned in an earlier story on Russell’s sad death, no one is to “blame” for his suicide. He was troubled and he made that awful decision on his own. It does make me shake my head that Taylor was wasting so much money when they essentially had none to spare. Russell’s lawyer said his client’s debt was the result of trying to keep up with the “lifestyle portrayed on the show,” and his mother said Russell was worried how he would be shown this season.

Russell Armstrong was more than $1.5 million in debt at the time of his suicide Monday, according to his attorney, and his mother told Headline News that he was dreading the way he would be portrayed in the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. “Before the new season even started, before he took his life, he said, ‘Mom, they’re just going to crucify me this season,’” John Ann Hotchkiss told HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. “He said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’ll never survive it.’”

Armstrong’s attorney Ronald Richards told ABC News that the show’s celebration of outrageous excess plunged Armstrong into debt “as a result of trying to keep up with expectations for the lavish lifestyle portrayed on the show.

“These couples join these shows, and then they keep trying to outdo each other and they end up spending all their money trying to sustain a lifestyle that’s unrealistic and wasn’t there prior to the show,” continued Richards. “The weekly social events, the dinners and all the BS, trying to pretend you have unlimited resources in Beverly Hills is tough. When every night is a potential sound bite or posting on a website, you end up getting addicted to it, you go out all the time.”

Bravo declined to comment on these remarks. The network currently has Housewives scheduled for a Sept. 5 premiere, but recent events have brought into question whether the network will still air the show as planned.

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Taylor had delusions of grandeur that weren’t consistent with her means, and Russell had filed for bankruptcy just two weeks before marrying her in 2005. His bad business deals were his own doing, and he had been sued multiple times for that. In no way were all his money problems all Taylor’s fault.

It just makes you wonder how Bravo is going to handle the new season now that Russell is deceased. I doubt they even know yet.


Header photo credit: Hellmuth Dominguez/Pacific Coast News. Photo above credit: Juan Rico/Fame Pictures

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20 Responses to “Russell Armstrong was $1.3 million in debt when he committed suicide”

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  1. Susan O. says:

    Does that enormous debt transfer to his wife, Taylor?

    Can someone photo shop out that hideous mouth of hers. I feel I’m descending into the world of swamp creatures when I see it.

    Bless the children, family and friends he left behind who truly loved him.

  2. Jayna says:

    Taylor has no job besides the show, even though she swore she did. If they can her after this season, she will fall apart fame w. E that she is. I’m sure she will be selling her story everywhere.

  3. jacq says:

    Of course they know… its been all over Facebook and the blogs. Andy and the other wives posted messages within hours of this being made public. It allllllmost makes it sound like you don’t thibk the network cares, that he was a pawn. This wasn’t the first of the franchise, by a long shot, they knew what they were getting into. If he was worried about the negative attention it would bring, he never should have done the show in the first place. I think this just goes back to the “someone has to pay” mentality, like his situation isn’t his OWN doing. Puh-lease. I feel bad only for their daughter. And how, exactly, is this Bravo’s fault when the problems pre-date the show by over 5 years?

  4. deathofasalesmen says:

    I hate to say it, but the more I read about this guy, the more it seems like he’s a sad post-millennial update of Willy Loman.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I feel very sad for this man. So what if he looked bad on a stupid reality TV show? Its not worth taking your life and leaving your child without a father. Everything can be dealt with – even if its not pretty to go through. It is very sad that he felt he had no other options.

  6. LeeLee says:

    I think their version of broke is very different than mine. On the NJ Housewives, Teresa is supposed to be broke and cutting back but she talks about it while wearing $1200 shoes and driving her Mercedes. I think it’s manipulation for her cookbook sales. Taylor will cry poverty while trying to make us buy something.

  7. suggabugga says:

    reality TV is just a sad sign o’times. people getting off by watching the debauchery and the misery of others.
    teenage mothers + promotes teenage pregnancy to get “famous”. Jersey Shore = promotes fighting, drinking and absolutetly idiotic behavior, Kate + 8 = those poor children!!! Toddlers and Tiaras =borderline childabuse …and so on and so forth

  8. Meg says:

    Why has Bravo hired wannabes? Adrianne, Camille, Lisa all have money and jobs/doing something for living. But Taylor, Kim and … (can’t remember) what are they doing? I don’t care who they used to be. What are they doing now?

  9. bananapanda says:

    I don’t like the Beverly Hills version but Orange County has been really interesting since the economy turned. You can really see people’s personalities, character and grit as their portfolios shrink. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of them have gotten divorced or foreclosed or sold their houses. (I’m looking at you Simon and Tamara, and Jo.)

  10. Susan O. says:

    Her net worth showed to be $100,000, his -$1 million. But I agree w/the poster who said HW’s idea of broke is very different from the mass of Americans. Example, Brandi Glanville crying poverty when it shows her to be worth 5 million. And what’s her alimony and child support payments? She asked for 50G/mth. and probably ended up w/close to 30,000/mth.

    I feel sorry for Russell’s three children, his mother & father, and extended family.

  11. the original bellaluna says:

    This couple was no different than any other couples on the HW series. They are ALL trying to “put the Jones’ to shame” rather than just keep up. It’s ridiculous, really.

  12. Charlotte says:

    Celebrity Net Worth has him worth -$1 million and her worth $10,000 to $100,000. I thought she was a “business woman” on her own… A good chunk of that debt has got to be for cosmetic surgery. I guess I can appreciate wanting to give your child the world, but I saw the episode with the little girl’s birthday and it was way over the top. That wasn’t a party for a 4 year-old kid. Child would probably been happy with a birthday picnic with her mommy and daddy. But I can’t blame her alone – Russell Armstrong made choices, both in his business and in his personal life. I don’t think it’s all on Taylor, it’s not like he only had issues after they met and married, after all!

  13. AcesHigh says:

    Hm. Reminds me of my grandfather. He was running out of money so he committed suicide so my grandma was able to live a stable life off his life insurance. Wonder if this was also the case? Hm.

  14. Annie_Grey says:

    Russell was also making bad deals. The illegal kind.

  15. John Wayne Lives says:

    Maybe I’m alone here, but with all the shady buisness this man was allegedly involved in… could it be murder?

  16. MB says:

    I don’t really understand why this article is making it seem like he committed suicide because of financial pressure. As previously mentioned, he had been involved in shady financial dealings for much of his “career”. Why would a measly 1.2m of debt suddenly send him over the edge? Ok, so maybe 1.2m isn’t exactly measly but that amount would include anything left owing on his house – most of us with mortgages are 100’sk + in debt so….

    Anyway, my point is that I find it hard to believe he killed himself over money. In my opinion, he knew he would be crucified on RHWOBH because the word got out that he was a WIFE BEATER. Whether you believe he beat Taylor(and I do because he could have sued her for slander otherwise), other women have come out saying he beat them as well. As we all know, men who beat their women are gutless selfish cowards. Russell simply continued the pattern of selfish behavior by taking the cowards way out by hanging himself instead of handling his issues like a real man for the sake of his child.

  17. Sassy says:

    California is a community property state, and I believe, due to involvement in community property state matters, that the wife is able to be made responsible for debts of the husband if they are incurred while the two were married. Anyone with a more precise view on the matter, please correct me if I am wrong.

  18. Str8Shooter says:

    WTF is up with her MOUTH in that first photo? She looks exactly like Jennifer Coolidge’s character in Best in Show!!

  19. womanfromthenorth says:

    they are all dumb bitches with big mouths, on stupid shows.

  20. Trashaddict says:

    Well, if you want to get really weird with the “it wasn’t suicide” theories, you could also guess autoerotic asphyxiation, i.e. hanging yourself for a bigger thrill.
    Apparently, not timing things right and accidentally hanging yourself does happen. Would explain why he didn’t leave a suicide note.