The Real Cost of Real Housewives
After the bankruptcy filing of Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice—her family has a stunning $11 million debt—Pamela Redmond Satran breaks down the cast’s spending.
When Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey filed for bankruptcy this month, court documents revealed she receives a mere $3,333 per month from Bravo for co-starring on the show. Not nearly enough, apparently, to cover the cost of her favorite bubbies, baubles, and baby ATVs.
In fact, that salary will pay for just four days of the mortgage and other expenses of living in Teresa’s Towaco, New Jersey, marble mansion, which she and her husband recently pulled from the market, where it had been priced at $4 million.
Dina’s freaky Sphynx cat, Grandma Wrinkles, would cost $1,500 on the open market, as would her Chinchilla Persian.
And Teresa would need to film 3,300 episodes of the show, about one a week until she’s 100 years old, in order to earn enough to pay off the $11 million in debt she and hubby Joe Giudice have racked up, according to papers filed in a Newark bankruptcy court.
Teresa’s setback raises the question: What, exactly, does it cost to be a New Jersey Housewife? More than you’d think, judging from the price tags on some of the ladies’ favorite items—and perhaps less than you’d think, when you consider all the items they themselves are hawking.
Although Teresa’s palace is no longer for sale, you can still buy Danielle Staub’s Tudor house in the hills of Wayne, New Jersey, at the new low price of $1,095,000, reduced from $1,495,000, with property taxes of $35,348. The place has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a pool.
You’ll have to install your own stripper pole—in last week’s episode, Danielle claimed she was “out of practice”—but you can pick up a Lil' Minx Pro with faux alligator carrying case for $399. Cut-rate models can be had on Amazon for $100, but we think Danielle would want the pro.
It will cost you $29.95 to watch Danielle’s sex tape over at the Hustler site, though if you sign up for a full year, they’ll take $10 off, just like at the souk. That’s just a few bucks more than her book The Naked Truth, $16.50 on Amazon, and the book doesn’t even show her naked.
If you want to dress like Danielle, you can find leather pants so tight you’d have to call them leggings, on sale at Neiman Marcus for $465.
Danielle has two material possessions in common with her now-departed nemesis on the show, Dina Manzo: a Range Rover and a bald, ugly pet. A new Range Rover will run you anywhere from 60 to 80 grand; a Chihuahua puppy like Danielle’s averages about $600.
Dina’s freaky Sphynx cat, Grandma Wrinkles, would cost $1,500 on the open market, as would her Chinchilla Persian. The cats will be joined by two newly adopted Yorkies, one of whom has paralyzed rear legs: free, though doggie diapers start at $15.95 a carton.
Like several of the other ladies, Dina has her own online store where you can purchase such Dina favorites as the Dina Manzo by Thad Cline flower necklace she’s been sporting much of this season, for $225.
Dina also sells products supporting her very worthy charity, Project Ladybug, ranging from bright red “ Lucky Locks” hair streaks for $10 to a gold, enamel, and diamond ladybug-themed bracelet at $4,990.
But if you really want to know what Dina spends—as well as why her husband chose never to be shown on Real Housewives of New Jersey—check out the 2007 video of her and Tommy on the VH1 show My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding, for which the total tab was $1,095,000. (The same cost, coincidentally, of the distressed price of her enemy Danielle’s house.)
Among the expenses: $477,000 worth of flowers, $40,000 to The Stylistics to perform, a $10,650 Badgley Mischka gown, and an unspecified number of $500 Jay Strongwater jeweled butterflies.
But all this money didn’t necessarily buy happiness for Dina, who was frequently caught weeping on camera. When her then-fiancé tried to comfort her, she snapped, “I don’t need comforting. I need a tissue and some drugs.”
Perhaps the most low-key New Jersey Housewife when it comes to money, maybe because she can afford to be, is Dina’s big sis Caroline, married to Albert Manzo, co-owner of The Brownstone. Despite horrible reviews on local sites, the business was doing well enough to allow the Manzos to drop $2,000 at Barneys in the Season 2 premiere on a shopping spree to outfit the newly svelte Albert.
Caroline has a personal trainer work out with her at home, about $75 an hour in New Jersey, but shares the session with her children. And the one “designer” necklace she has been spotted wearing was by Stella and Dot, $59.
Sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, meanwhile, blew $543.85 on prosciutto and mozzarella last week before the boys’ big card game. Her rose quartz and moonstone “fertility bracelet,” which she credited for getting her pregnant with baby Nicholas, was a $150 gift from Dina, created by spiritual adviser “Zen Jen” and available at zenjewelz.com.
A man-size gun safe like the one where hubby Chris keeps his assault weapons will set you back $2,786, shipping included. And there are always pedicures at The Chateau Salon & Spa, $30; Chanel sunglasses with gold frames and quilted leather sides, for $399; and a Happy Wife, Happy Life T-shirt, $9.95 on eBay, though the pushover big-hearted Jacqueline may be doing her destitute pal Teresa a favor by buying it from her online store for twice that price.
Other authentic RHONJ goods available on TGFabulicious include a Jersey Girl T-shirt for $24.95; a pewter multi-string necklace like the one Teresa’s been favoring this season, $100; and for the kiddies, a leopard and maribou headband modeled by the one and only Gia, $35.
During pre-bankruptcy-filing filming, Teresa dropped $1,965.80 on clothes for her three oldest girls at the Stage Left boutique in Franklin Lakes. And Gia’s Lights, Camera, Limo party from Sweet & Sassy in Ridgewood cost $489, food not included.
On the Giudice family vehicles, Gia’s mini-ATV could have been bought on sale for $299, but Papa Joe’s big-ass Escalade costs $1,280 a month, according to court papers. Though the couple claims in bankruptcy documents to have spent $12,000 in fertility treatments—why did Teresa ask Joe to get a vasectomy then?—there was no mention of the eight to 10 grand most New Jersey plastic surgeons charge for the breast augmentation we saw Teresa undergo in Season 1.
Watch Teresa flip a table and call Danielle Staub a “prostitution whore."
In the plus column, Teresa’s book Skinny Italian has made the New York Times bestseller list for several weeks in a row. With a new book in the works, according to her blog, perhaps she can eventually help pull the family away from the financial brink.