A bonafide socialite has joined the ranks of The Real Housewives of New York City.
Sure, plenty of New York Housewives have claimed the title of “socialite” before, but the show’s newest addition, Tinsley Mortimer, is its first with true socialite credentials.
In the mid-2000s, Tinsley ruled over high society in New York City. She was a debutante whose wedding to the son of a mega-prominent family earned ink in the New York Times Style section. From there she became a fixture on the charity circuit and in the front rows of New York Fashion Week and saw her star rise as a boldface name on the Society pages.
Tinsley had all the makings of a top tier socialite; gracing the pages of Vogue and the red carpet at the MET Gala. She was regularly referred to as “the most photographed woman in New York City.” Dior even lipstick named after her: Tinsley Pink.
Then it all came crashing down. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
There are a few things you need to know first about New York’s newest Housewife:
She had a major feud of Olivia Palermo
Back in 2007, Tinsley had a very battle battle with a pre-The City Olivia Palermo. At the time, Olivia was an upstart on the social circuit and Tinsley was a heavy hitter. The drama between the two was driven by the now-defunct website Socialiterank.com and its The Social Elite Power Ranking.
Tinsley was the perennial number one girl on the rankings, while Olivia was branded as a gauche social climber. Then the site published a letter, allegedly written by Olivia and sent to the inner circle of the society world, that turned the whole scene into chaos. (The entire affair was documented in a very juicy New York Magazine article that’s an absolute must-read.)
The incident was even rumoured to be part of the inspiration for the plot of Gossip Girl.
Speaking of Gossip Girl, Tinsley was on it!
Gossip Girl was a fictional depiction of the very social circles that Tinsley once ran in, so it was only natural that she was asked to do a guest spot on the show. Tinsley played herself on the show’s second season, as a friend of Lily van der Woodsen’s.
She was actually name checked even before that, when in season one Blair said the credibility of Gossip Girl – IE the show’s fictional blog – “is like Tinsley Mortimer’s after a few martinis.” (This obviously bodes well for Tinsley on RHONY.)
She already had her own reality TV show
Tinsley starred in her own reality show on The CW back in 2010. Called High Society, the underrated show last just eight episodes. On High Society, Tinsley had a rivalry with Devorah Rose, who RHONY obsessives will remember as the woman who put Bethenny on the cover of Social Life magazine back in season two of the show.
Tinsley’s big in Japan
No, really! Tinsley had a line of handbags and clothing in Japan for the label Samantha Thavasa. When it first came out, her face was plastered all over billboards in the middle of Tokyo. For a time, she was apparently an even a bigger star there than her New York contemporary, Paris Hilton.
She had a very public downfall
First came Tinsley’s divorce from Topper Mortimer, a monied oil heir whose family is well-connected in New York. After the split, many took Topper’s side. (There were also rumours she had had an illicit affair with a German royal.)
After High Society, Tinsley became even more isolated, with society purists turning up their noses at the audacity she had to stoop to reality TV. She then retreated to Palm Beach, leaving many in New York to wonder where she disappeared to. Once omnipresent in New York, it was almost as if she went into hiding.
In Florida Tinsley started dating the son of another extremely wealthy family, Alexander “Nico” Fanjul, whose father, also named Alexander, is a billionaire sugar baron.
By all accounts, the relationship turned very sour. In 2013, Tinsley went to the hospital due to “possible battery” on Christmas Day. Just a few days later, the police were called to Nico’s house and found Tinsley locked in a bedroom. She was slapped with a warning for trespassing.
Over the years, there were four police reports taken by the Palm Beach Police Department regarding incidents between Tinsley and Nico.
Then last April, after the two had broken up, Tinsley was arrested for trespassing on Nico’s property. The news blew up back in New York, where Tinsley’s mug shot ran in Page Six, the very section of the New York Post that had chronicled her rise to fame.
Just a few months after her arrest, Tinsley made the decision to return to New York – and, apparently, to move in with Sonja. She made her official return to the society circuit at the annual Winter Wonderland ball at the New York Botanical Garden last December. Right there alongside her: Tinsley’s new co-star, Carole.
With RHONY, Tinsley is purportedly looking to stage a major comeback in New York. And so far, it’s working: her name is already back in headlines everywhere from Harper’s Bazaar to Page Six to Town & Country.
Will it work? That’s anyone’s guess. But we’ll certainly be watching.