RHONY star Bethenny Frankel's on-and-off boyfriend Dennis Shields found dead at 51

Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel's on-and-off boyfriend, businessman Dennis Shields, has passed away.

On Friday morning, Aug. 10, 2018, Shields was found dead of an apparent overdose in his Trump Tower apartment in New York City, the New York Post reports. He was 51 years old.

According to sources cited by the publication, Shields' assistant reportedly treated him with Narcan, an emergency medication used for opioid overdoses, at his request at around 9 a.m. It is believed that Shields, who was the CEO of the Brooklyn-based banking firm LawCash, had taken OxyContin, a strong prescription painkiller. While responding to a 911 call at 9:19 a.m., authorities reportedly found the banker unconscious and unresponsive. As a New York Police Department spokesperson told Entertainment Tonight, Shields was later pronounced dead at the scene. 

At the time of this writing, it's important to note that Shields' official cause of death has not been confirmed. "Preliminarily, we are investigating it as a possible overdose," another NYPD spokesperson told People magazine. While the investigation into the matter remains ongoing, an autopsy will be performed by the New York medical examiner's office.

Shields' ex-wife, Jill Schwartzberg Shields, has since broken her silence on his tragic death. "We are all heartbroken," she released in a statement to People magazine. "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." 

However, Frankel, 47, has yet to publicly comment on Shields' passing. After knowing each other for nearly three decades, they were first romantically linked in 2016. That same year, both parties had split from their respective spouses. While the reality TV star finalized her divorce from ex-husband Jason Hoppy, with whom she shares 8-year-old daughter Bryn, Shields and his ex-wife separated after 26 years of marriage. Frankel and Shields had dated on-and-off ever since.

The Skinnygirl mogul opened up about their complicated relationship history during an appearance on Steve Harvey's talk show in May 2018. "I've been with someone on and off for years," she began, while refusing to refer to Shields by name (via People). "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."

More recently, Frankel briefly gave an inside look at their complex romance during this week's episode of her hit Bravo series, which aired on Wednesday, Aug. 8. "I didn't say it to Dennis, but in my own mind, I said, '90 days. I'm not saying a word to Dennis for 90 days,'" she told co-star Dorinda Medley (via Us Weekly). "It's a really hard thing to realize that someone you love, it doesn't mean they're the right person, and I wish he was."

"I may live here forever alone," Frankel added, in reference to her new apartment. "And I'm okay with that."

Just days before Shields was found dead, he had gushed over Frankel while appearing on the Listen Up Show With Mitchell Chadrow show on Sunday, Aug. 5. "She's great," he said (via Us Weekly). "She's a great mother. She's a great person. She's really, really smart. She is terrific in every way."

"I've known Bethenny a very, very long time," he went on. "I met her when we were both still in college, and my ex-wife [Jill] and her were friends in high school. We remained friends the whole time that I was married — nothing but friends. And then right after Jill and I got separated, Bethenny and I started dating and we've been together on and off now for I think it was almost four years. That's what she told me … But we do break up a lot."

Our thoughts are with Shields' loved ones during this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's 24/7 National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.