Dennis Shields, the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Bethenny Frankel of “Real Housewives of New York,” was found dead Friday of an apparent overdose in his Manhattan apartment, reports say. 

The New York Police confirmed a 51-year-old man was found “unconscious and unresponsive” in his Fifth Avenue apartment in Trump Tower and was declared dead by emergency responders shortly after 10 a.m.The New York Post and local NBC affiliate indicated that the death is being investigated as a possible overdose. 

Cadet Taylor Cannon, a spokeswoman for the NYPD, said she could not confirm his identity. However, Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, told USA TODAY that her agency is investigating the death of a man believed to be Shields, adding that it would release the cause and manner of his death once the autopsy has been completed. 

  

Shields’ wife Jill issued a statement to People magazine that appears to confirm his death: “We are all heartbroken. Dennis was, and will always be, the love of my life. His spirit lives on in our children. Please respect our family’s privacy at this time.”

Shields, the CEO of litigation funding company LawCash, has long had a close and complex relationship with Frankel, who has a daughter, Bryn, 8, with her ex-husband Jason Hoppy. According to People, they first met about 27 years ago when he dated (and later married) one of her high school friends. 

Frankel, 47, began dating Shields in 2016, three years after she filed for divorce from Hoppy. Much of their relationship was documented on the Bravo’s

That year, she shared an Instagram Story picture of herself wearing a massive sparkling ring while nuzzling into Shields’ shoulder.

In May, she appeared on Steve Harvey’s talk show, where she talked about the status of their relationship.

“I’ve been with someone on and off for years,” she said. “It’s like a partnership where if we’re not being teammates and it’s not working and one man is down, then the other man is down. We’re trying to really kind of be good partners and be good teammates and I think relationships oddly are — and this sounds cold — but a little bit like business. If both people aren’t happy about it but slightly uncomfortable and giving up something or giving in (to) something, it doesn’t work. So both partners have to say, ‘All right, I’m in it for this.’ ”

While appearing on the long-running reality-TV show, Frankel launched the Skinnygirl jeans and clothing brand, then sold it for $100 million in 2011 while retaining the name rights and continuing to earn a profit.

Shortly after, she appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine, which reported on how she had become one of the most well-known entrepreneurs on TV by building her brand, appearing on a video diary on Bravo, and writing three best-selling books (“Naturally Thin,” “Skinnygirl Dish” and “A Place of Yes”). 

Representatives for Frankel did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment. 

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