'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Husband Was $1.5 Million in Debt Before Apparent Suicide

The estranged husband of Taylor Armstrong, apparently hung himself.

August 16, 2011, 11:56 AM

Aug. 16, 2011 — -- Russell Armstrong was more than $1.5 million in debt and spending wildly before his apparent suicide, his lawyer told ABCNews.com today.

"He didn't have any extra assets," Ronald Richards said about his client, who was the estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Taylor Armstrong. "He was living month to month to support his lifestyle for Taylor."

Before his death, the financier was being sued by MyMedicalRecords.com for misusing funds and breach of contract. But Richards said it was the pressure to one up the fellow "Real Housewives" personalities that really strained his finances.

"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," he said. "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."

Still, Richards doesn't believe Russell Armstrong took his life because of his debt. Richards saw him after Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July and said his client displayed only "normal disappointment that the marriage had failed."

"I talked to him all the time," he said. "I was shocked to hear this. I feel sad that he didn't call me, because I would have gone over to his house."

Russell Armstrong was found dead at his Los Angeles home Monday night after apparently hanging himself. He was 47. The Los Angeles Police Department said there were no signs of foul play and no investigation is planned.

Bravo, the network that airs the "Real Housewives" franchise, issued a statement via email: "All of us at Bravo are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the Armstrong family at this difficult time."

Taylor Armstrong, 40, spoke to E! Online last week about Bravo's cameras capturing her falling out with her husband.

"I know it's going to be hard for me to watch a lot of it," Armstrong says of the second season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." "It's been such an emotional ride for me this year. And it's one thing to experience it, but then to watch it again on television and know that millions of other people are watching, it's going to be tough."

She also talked with People magazine last month about her abusive marriage, saying she and her husband would have explosive arguments that sometimes led to him grabbing her, throwing things, shoving her and pulling her hair.

"I felt like I was dying inside," she said. "We tried hard to fix our marriage but it wasn't healthy."

Russell Armstrong responded to her allegations.

"Did I push her? Yes, maybe things happened in the heat of the moment, but it was during a time in our lives that was not characteristic of who we were," he told People. "This show has literally pushed us to the limit."

Despite their drama, Taylor Armstrong said she still wanted her husband to be close to their daughter, 5-year-old Kennedy. Taylor Armstrong's $60,000 birthday party for Kennedy was featured in an episode of "Real Housewives."

"I hope we can co-parent as healthy as possible," she said. "He's an amazing dad, and I want her to still think her dad is the greatest guy on the planet."

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