Dennis Shields Reportedly Proposed To RHONY Star Bethenny Frankel Before His Death

Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel and her late on-and-off boyfriend, businessman Dennis Shields, apparently had marriage on their minds in the months before his sudden passing.

According to a People magazine exclusive, published on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, Shields reportedly popped the question earlier this year. 

"He proposed to her with a ring in April. She wasn't wearing the ring," a source, who's said to be a friend of Frankel's, told the publication. "There were some hurdles to overcome before she could make that level of a commitment. She loved him. He's her family and her best friend and her confidante. Her partner and her business partner." While "very few people knew about the proposal," the insider added, "She didn't say no. She would have loved to have married him."

As Nicki Swift previously reported, Shields was found dead of a suspected OxyContin overdose in his New York City apartment on Friday morning, Aug. 10. He was 51 years old. At the time of this writing, his official cause of death has yet to be determined amid an ongoing NYPD investigation into the matter. 

After reportedly attending Shields' funeral, which was held on Long Island, N.Y. on Monday, Aug. 13, Frankel broke her silence by paying tribute to the late LawCash CEO on social media. "Rest In Peace my sweet babies who gave me endless unconditional love," she wrote, captioning a snapshot of Shields with her late dog, Cookie. The television personality concluded her heartfelt post with the hashtag, "#nowandforever."

As for how Frankel is coping in the days since Shields' death, her friend told People that she's understandably "devastated," adding, "She talked to him this past week. He loved her and she loved him."

Frankel, 47, and Shields were first romantically linked in 2016, after both parties split from their former spouses. However, they'd known each other for nearly 30 years. Just prior to starting their on-again, off-again romance, the Skinnygirl mogul had finalized her nasty divorce from ex-husband Jason Hoppy, with whom she shares 8-year-old daughter Bryn. Meanwhile, Shields and his ex-wife, Jill Schwartzberg Shields, had amicably called it quits on their 26-year marriage.

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.