Even for hardcore followers of actuality TV, Erika and Tom Girardi of Bravo’s “Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills” proved to be fairly the odd couple.
Erika, 49, is a Jersey go-go dancer turned Cali socialite turned aspiring club-music diva recognized for flaunting her style for all times’s finer issues in Auto-Tuned tracks equivalent to “XXPen$ive,” wherein she writhes on silk sheets tossing chilly exhausting money.
Tom, in the meantime, is the 81-year-old founding father of the West Coast legislation agency Girardi & Keese, and was once called one of many “most profitable plaintiff attorneys of the mass tort bar.”
Nonetheless, he appeared supportive of his third spouse’s burgeoning music profession. He employed her the perfect choreographers, songwriters and costume designers that cash may purchase, together with those that had beforehand labored for Girl Gaga and Michael Jackson.
“That was an costly video,” Erika advised Tom over lunch on a 2017 episode of “RHOBH,” referring to “XXPen$ive,” which featured elaborate units, dancers and over-the-top costumes.
“It was price it,” he advised his spouse.
Quick ahead to at this time and it’s unclear if he’d nonetheless really feel the identical manner. On Nov. three, Erika filed to divorce her husband of 21 years, and the pair stands accused by former purchasers in lawsuits of misappropriating thousands and thousands of in settlement cash.
Earlier this month, Erika and Tom were sued by legal professionals representing Boeing airplane crash victims, who claimed they embezzled funds meant to go to households of those that misplaced their lives on Lion Air Flight 610.
Tom, who has denied allegations of monetary impropriety and whose web price was as soon as mentioned to be $264 million, now says he’s broke.
“At one level, I had about 80 million or 50 million in money. That’s all gone,” Tom testified this fall. “I don’t have any cash.”
It’s a surprising fall from grace for Tom, who received a document settlement for $333 million towards Pacific Fuel and Electrical in 1996. The case later impressed the Oscar-winning 2000 film “Erin Brockovich” starring Julia Roberts.
His status burnished by Hollywood, he’s since made a profession out of defending underdogs at Girardi & Keese, the legislation agency he based in 1965, years earlier than his spouse was born.
Regardless of his status as a champion of the downtrodden, Tom loved immense wealth. Each courtroom victory, and there have been many, earned Tom as much as 40 p.c of the settlement, according to the LA Times. The couple’s over-the-top life-style included personal jets and a Pasadena, Calif., property mentioned to be price $15.5 million.
Erika definitely made no secret about having fun with their wealth, claiming on “RHOBH” that she spends $40,000 a month on hair and make-up from her “glam squad.”
Followers of the Bravo present definitely weren’t stunned by the break up. Ever since Erika joined the solid in 2015, her marriage has been known as into query, principally due to the 33-year age hole.
“I’ve handled this without end: the youthful girl that married the wealthier, older man,” Erika said earlier this 12 months. She added, “Yeah I married a man that’s 33 years older than me and yeah he’s bought some huge cash, however you recognize what? He’s a f–king good man. And that’s the most essential factor.”
From the surface, it appeared like Erika was a gold digger. The couple didn’t signal a prenup earlier than their 1999 wedding ceremony.
The reality as to why their marriage is ending, nevertheless, is likely to be extra difficult.
The lawsuit known as the break up “a sham try and fraudulently defend Tom’s and Erika’s cash from those who search to gather on money owed owed by Tom and his legislation agency.”
Girardi & Keese, it alleged, “are on the verge of monetary collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting money owed and dwindling funds.”
Representatives for Erika and Tom didn’t reply to The Put up’s requests for remark.
Since then, Tom and his legislation agency have been sued by Wells Fargo Vendor Monetary Companies, which claimed that Tom did not make funds on 5 lease agreements he had with the financial institution, totaling greater than $880,000, according to Page Six.
The dangerous information doesn’t finish there: Tom’s assets have been frozen, and he’s been held in contempt of court and sued by his law partner. Two of his collectors filed involuntary chapter petitions towards him and a lawyer for the airplane crash victims accused him in court docket of working “a Ponzi scheme.”
Erika was a 25-year-old single mother when she first met Tom. She had moved to LA to begin an appearing profession and, like most on the audition circuit, was making ends meet by waitressing at Chasen’s, the Beverly Hills movie star hang-out the place Tom was an investor.
“He can be there very often, particularly upstairs close to the personal membership the place I labored,” Erika wrote in her 2018 memoir “Pretty Mess.”
The lawyer usually met with purchasers and associates there, and dined together with his kids.
“What actually attracted me to him was the way in which that he interacted with individuals. This man treats everyone with respect,” Erika wrote.
After a 12 months of ready on him, Erika slipped Tom her quantity. There was an prompt connection.
“There was no attending to know you interval. I had already met all of his kids and his colleagues, although it was in my capability as a cocktail waitress,” she mentioned.
After conserving the connection a secret, Erika stop her job and moved into his mansion. They wed on a golf course six months later and she or he quickly discovered herself taking part in the function of “first woman of some authorized organizations,” as she as soon as put it on “RHOBH.”
Tom stored her within the loop together with his authorized proceedings, usually asking her opinion on instances he had taken on. He additionally urged her to attend her flip throughout arguments.
His hefty paychecks definitely made life enjoyable. “Tom has given me many issues,” she mentioned. “However the sweetest factor he’s ever executed in my life is imagine in me.”
But it surely wasn’t simply his religion that helped launch Erika’s singing profession, beneath the stage title Erika Jayne.
“The entire Erika Jayne mission was solely doable as a result of I’m self-funded,” she wrote. “The haters are at all times going to say, ‘All you do is spend your husband’s cash.’ To begin with, it’s our cash. Know the way I do know? As a result of the IRS tells us that it’s. My title is on that tax return too.”
In 2007, Erika put out “Rollercoaster,” a clubby Madonna-esque single that really hit the Billboard dance charts.
Her debut album, “Fairly Mess,” adopted in 2009.
By 2015, Erika had been considering giving up on her flagging music profession.
“The return on funding wasn’t actually making sense anymore,” she mentioned.
However that shortly modified after she landed on Season 6 of “RHOBH,” alongside Lisa Rinna, Yolanda Hadid and Kyle Richards.
With a brand new viewers at her fingertips, fan fave Erika as a substitute doubled down on her recording profession. Quickly, she was on “Dancing With the Stars” exhibiting off salsa strikes set to her personal music.
Erika’s stalled try at stardom might have lastly been taking off, however cracks have been starting to look within the facade of the venerable Girardi & Keese.
Tom was allegedly taking out loans, utilizing anticipated authorized charges for excellent instances as collateral, based on court docket data seen by the LA Occasions.
On the similar time, purchasers started accusing the legislation agency of dishonest them out of funds — together with the sufferer of a 2010 PG&E pipeline explosion.
Legislation Finance Group wrote in an affidavit that $20 million “denominated as ‘loans’ ” and lent to the agency have been truly going to EJ World LLC, which funded Erika’s music profession.
In 2019, they sued Tom, stating that their cash went to his “lavish life-style.”
Tom has denied the allegations however Girardi & Keese has imploded: At one time, the agency was 30 legal professionals robust. Immediately, it not has a web site.
Although the Boeing crash victims alleged the divorce is nothing however a monetary tactic, Erika took to social media this week claiming that Tom cheated on her with a choose.
“That is Justice Tricia A. Bigelow. She was f – – king my husband Tom Girardi and he was paying her Saks invoice and paying for her cosmetic surgery,” Erika wrote in an Instagram submit that she subsequently deleted, which allegedly confirmed messages between the pair.
Bigelow’s legal professional told the LA Times that the justice has been “in a dedicated relationship along with her husband for greater than 4 years.” The legal professional mentioned that Bigelow briefly dated Tom years in the past earlier than her marriage, however that she at all times recused herself from instances involving Tom or the legal professionals from his agency.
Bigelow did not respond to The Post’s request for comment, but after the outburst, Erika’s attorneys were warned that she needed to stop selling her designer garments on-line, as they are often thought of communal property as a result of Tom purchased them for her.
“It is advisable inform her of the hazard that places her in,” she was advised, based on a recording of the proceedings.
The connection to her husband’s pockets might dry up faster than she anticipated.
Although Erika had requested spousal support from Tom and requested that her ex cowl her legal professional charges for the divorce, Tom has requested the court docket to terminate her right to alimony.
Within the meantime, the fact star — who made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in “Chicago” earlier this 12 months — has continued to submit selfies and glamour photographs, although she is aware of that the lifetime of a Actual Housewife isn’t at all times fairly.
“Whenever you signal your title on that paper, you’d higher be ready to appear like a idiot, to be made an fool and to not be proven in your greatest mild,” she wrote in her memoir.
“It’s an inevitability.”