It has been a tumultuous few years for Bethenny Frankel. While her personal life has been making tabloid headlines, the reality-television celebrity has been assembling a real-estate portfolio that reflects recent changes in her life.
Ms. Frankel was a struggling natural-foods chef when she made her debut on the Bravo show “The Real Housewives of New York City” in 2008. She parlayed her reality-show fame into the launch of the liquor company Skinnygirl, which she sold to the makers of Jim Beam bourbon in 2011.
She also appeared in “Real Housewives” spinoffs “Bethenny Getting Married” and “Bethenny Ever After,” which chronicled her ups and downs both in marriage and real estate. She married pharmaceutical-sales executive Jason Hoppy in 2010, gave birth to their daughter, Bryn, and bought a four-bedroom Tribeca loft with Mr. Hoppy in 2011 for $4.995 million. They spent about $500,000 to renovate and furnish it, Ms. Frankel said.
She moved out of the loft after splitting with Mr. Hoppy. The cameras continued to roll during the divorce battle that followed. Ms. Frankel lived in hotels and corporate apartments while Mr. Hoppy stayed in their apartment. In one episode of “Housewives,” Ms. Frankel referred to herself as “the richest homeless person in Manhattan.”
Their divorce was finalized last year and the Tribeca loft was sold this past fall for its asking price of $6.95 million. Meanwhile, Ms. Frankel has acquired three new homes in the past four years: a loft in Soho, a house in the Hamptons and a rented Soho apartment she uses to house her business.
While she was apartment-less in New York during her divorce, she purchased a five-bedroom, shingled house in Bridgehampton and an adjacent house for a total of $2.65 million in 2013. She uses the smaller, roughly 800-square-foot home as a guesthouse and added red gates to link the two properties.
During a roughly four-month renovation of the main house, she spent about $400,000 to enlarge it to about 3,000 square feet, revamping the master bathroom, creating a sunroom and opening up the kitchen. Appropriately for the founder of a liquor company, she converted a pool house into a bar, where she said she loves to entertain into the wee hours after her frequent dinner parties.
Meanwhile, Ms. Frankel turned her attention to finding another permanent New York home. She said she looked at more than 100 apartments before settling on her current condo, a roughly 2,400-square-foot space she bought for $4.2 million in September of 2014.
In the loft, Ms. Frankel pays homage to her “Housewives” connection with apples-a reference to the show’s logo-scattered throughout the space. There is a 4-foot-tall apple sculpture by artist Robert Kuo in the courtyard facing her bedroom; a smaller pair sit by the fireplace.
“There are apples everywhere,” said Ms. Frankel, 46, curled up on her couch in rolled-up jeans and bare feet. “Without ‘the Housewives,’ indirectly, I probably wouldn’t be able to have this apartment.”
It was a casual on-camera mention of her recipe for a “skinny girl margarita” on “Housewives” that sparked the idea for her liquor business. Skinnygirl became one of the largest ready-to-drink cocktail brands in the U.S., selling more than 100,000 cases a year by the time it was acquired by Fortune Brands’ Beam Global Spirits & Wine (now called Beam Suntory). In the deal with Beam, Ms. Frankel kept the rights to the name “Skinnygirl,” which she now uses to license and market products other than liquor, from candy to appliances.
During the renovation of the Soho loft, which cost about $400,000, Ms. Frankel said she picked almost everything herself, often eschewing the advice of designers. She replaced the all-brown kitchen with white lacquer and marble countertops. She enlarged the closet in the master bedroom and built a marble bar in a corner of the living room, topping it with a Sputnik-esque light fixture.
In the living room, she paired an “industrial but feminine” chandelier with three large abstract paintings. Ms. Frankel explained with a chuckle that the paintings are her 6-year-old daughter Bryn’s artwork, blown up and transposed onto canvas. “It’s the centerpiece of the house,” she said.
The overall result is undeniably feminine, with fluffy white pillows and glittery metallic accents, such as an oblong silver coffee table. On a recent December afternoon, an all-white Christmas tree by the fireplace was topped with a tiara.
But Ms. Frankel also wanted an office. In addition to heading up the Skinnygirl brand, she continues to work with Beam. She also has a production company, has written books and is executive producer of the television show “Food Porn” on the FYI network.
Instead of choosing office space for her staff of four, Ms. Frankel rents an $11,500-per-month two-bedroom in a Broome Street apartment building. Employees can crash there after events, and there is a kitchen for sampling recipes. While going through her divorce, “I wasted so much money living in hotels,” she said. “I wish I had had that office then-I would have moved in there.”
Ms. Frankel gained real-estate closure in October, when the Tribeca apartment she previously shared with Mr. Hoppy sold within days of hitting the market. Meanwhile, the headline-making drama continues: In late January Mr. Hoppy was arrested on charges of harassing and stalking her, a New York City Police Department spokesperson said. Mr. Hoppy’s attorney, Alex Spiro, declined to comment on the case, and Ms. Frankel declined to comment on Mr. Hoppy’s arrest.
Ms. Frankel said her divorce is what prompted her recent launch of the crisis-intervention initiative “B Strong: Find Your Yes” in partnership with the nonprofit Dress for Success. She added that her new homes are helping to heal those wounds. “I take such pride in where I live,” she said.