Romain Bonnet became one of the most controversial subjects during to his participation in Netflix’s hit reality television series, “Selling Sunset.” His relationship with one of its main stars, Mary Fitzgerald, fascinated fans not only because their wedding was featured in the show, but more so because he was 12 years younger than her. Romain’s inclusion in the TV show added more spice to the drama surrounding his wife’s business dealings in the real estate industry.
- 1 Get to know Romain Bonnet
- 2 The Oppenheim Group
- 3 All about “Selling Sunset”
- 4 Romain’s journey with “Selling Sunset”
- 4.1 His first appearance in the show
- 4.2 Anniversary dinner that went awkward
- 4.3 A wedding proposal during the end of the first season
- 4.4 An elegant and romantic TV wedding in the second season
- 4.5 Conflicting views on Romain’s decision not to invite Davina to the wedding
- 4.6 Canceled Bali honeymoon
- 4.7 Controversial TV wedding: Reel or Real
Get to know Romain Bonnet
Despite being in a TV show, there’s little information about his early life, education and family. He was never keen on sharing everything about his personal life, so he remained a mystery to the fans of “Selling Sunset.” Here are some of the interesting facts about Romain Bonnet:
He’s French and only moved to Los Angeles to seek greener pastures
Romain Bonnet was born on 18 June 1993, in France, he left his entire family there when he moved to the US in the mid-2010s. There are conflicting reports on what he was doing before he appeared in “Selling Sunset.” While it was generally believed that he moved to L.A. to pursue a modeling career, which he did, some said that he was also a French pastry chef at that time. Apparently, he was trained in baking when he was still living in France, but there were no pieces of evidence that he used his pastry-making skills when he arrived in the US.
How Romain met Mary
When Romain appeared in “Selling Sunset,” he was introduced as the boyfriend of Mary Fitzgerald, one of the real estate agents at The Oppenheim Group. She said that she met him in 2017 through a client who happened to be Romain’s boss, who at that time was moving a group of French pastry chefs to the US. She helped them find a place to stay in California, and when he flew to L.A., Mary picked him up at the airport to show him some properties. She confessed that when he hopped into her car, ‘My jaw hit the floor.’ Two days later, he asked her for a date and they have been together ever since, despite the 12-year age gap.
From modeling brands to remodeling real estate projects
Romain worked as a model, and was represented in L.A. and New York by one of the world’s most prominent talent management agencies, Wilhelmina Models, founded in 1967 by the popular Dutch supermodel, Wilhelmina Cooper. His modeling career took off slowly, with several brands including DNA and Garcon. He also graced the covers of magazines such as Éclair, Muze, and Men Cruze. Being around Mary over the years exposed him to the real estate industry, and it wasn’t a surprise to the people around him that later on, he joined The Oppenheim Group as well. However, he wasn’t a realtor like Mary, but he took on a job as one of the project managers of the company, supervising the remodeling of some real estate properties in their listing for clients.
The Oppenheim Group
When “Selling Sunset” became popular, one of the first things that the fans wondered about was if the real estate brokerage firm was for real or not. It was a fair question, especially since all the workers in the company looked like professional actors and models. However, since the company was in the business of buying and selling properties, it shouldn’t be a surprise that its sales team looked confident, smart, and attractive.
The Oppenheim Group was founded by twin brothers, Jason and Brett Oppenheim. They came from a well-known family with an impeccable history in the real estate industry in Hollywood – it was their great, great-grandfather, Jacob Stern, who established The Stern Realty Co., a real estate company that was located in a barn inside his huge property in L.A. It was also on this property where two of the most future historic buildings in the entertainment industry were built, the original movie studio of Paramount Pictures, and the iconic Hollywood Plaza Hotel.
Their father’s company
Initially, in the 1980s, it was the twins’ father who established The Oppenheim Group with the hope that they would take over the business someday and be as successful as their great, great-grandfather. However, the twins weren’t keen on anything related to the business yet, as they were perennial mischief-makers when they were in their teens. Their parents had to deal with several high school expulsions, so the business was eventually closed down. Their youthful antics were later successfully quelled by their Vietnam War veteran of a father, and both graduated with a law degree from college.
Re-opening of the business
After spending years practicing law, in 2014 Jason Oppenheim switched careers and re-founded The Oppenheim group with his brother Brett, serving not only as one of the founders, but also as the President of the brokerage firm. The journey to the top wasn’t as easy as everyone thought it was, because it took him eight months to close his first deal. However, through hard work, he and his twin brother were able to establish a strong network of celebrity clients, by hiring the best real estate agents, who helped the company to flourish over the years.
All about “Selling Sunset”
The reality-TV show, “Selling Sunset,” featured the business operations of the successful real estate company, The Oppenheim Group.
Premise and TV premiere
Reality-TV fans had long been exposed to home makeovers through several popular HGTV series, and Adam DiVello, a TV executive, thought that it was time for the fans to discover the ins and outs of the highly competitive selling and buying of luxurious real estate properties in L.A.; he wanted to produce a show that would have the real estate brokerage industry as its front and center. The idea all started when he saw a magazine ad about the people and services of The Oppenheim group. He immediately instructed his staff to reach out to the owners of the firm, and set him up for an interview. The Oppenheim Group wasn’t that keen on accepting the offer, but was later on convinced that it would be beneficial to the company. On 21 March 2019, “Selling Sunset” made its TV debut on Netflix, and it became one of the most watched TV shows on the streaming network.
Drama! Drama! Drama!
Selling Sunset finally returns with the premiere of Season 5 on April 22 pic.twitter.com/6g4iCNnw0w
— Netflix (@netflix) March 22, 2022
While Romain Bonnet appeared during the first season of the TV show, he wasn’t part of the main core of characters – he belonged to the supporting cast, and was initially labeled as a recurring guest. From the second season up to the third season, he was credited as part of the main cast, but from the fourth to the sixth season, his appearances were limited, and he became a recurring guest once again.
The main cast members from the first episode up to the fifth season were the Oppenheim twin brothers, Mary Fitzgerald, Maya Vander, Heather Young, Christine Quinn, and Chrishell Stause. Two of them would no longer appear in the next season – Maya had a proper farewell episode with the cast, unlike Christine who failed to show up for the reunion episode in the fifth season. It was only recently that she informed everyone that she’d made a business decision to quit, so she could focus on her newly established real estate company with her multi-millionaire husband. Many speculated that she was fired because of bribery allegations thrown at her by another co-worker. In the last three seasons, more people including Davina Potratz, Amanza Smith, Vanessa Villela, and Emma Hernan were added as part of the main cast.
The Oppenheim agent said their fall out was really "emotional for me". 😟
Posted by Selling Sunset on Saturday, November 21, 2020
Romain’s journey with “Selling Sunset”
Some of the fans of “Selling Sunset” wondered why Romain was included in the reality-TV show, since he was just the boyfriend of one of the real estate agents. On some online forums, many found him quite bland, however, the creators felt that it was only fitting that Romain became part of it because of the way he and Mary met. The series was all about showing real estate properties in L.A., and his relationship with her started because she helped him find a home there. It was a perfect human side dramatic narrative for a real estate show, and it worked. For three seasons, the viewers witnessed their engagement, wedding, and plans on starting a family. Here are some of the highlights:
His first appearance in the show
In the debut episode of “Selling Sunset,” Mary was seen showing Romain a real estate property worth close to $5 million, and she shared that when they first met, she already knew that they would someday purchase a home together. She also admitted that he was different from all the other guys she dated in the past, in the sense that Romain wasn’t intimidated by her situation and her personality.
Anniversary dinner that went awkward
Romain and Mary celebrated their first anniversary as a couple by having dinner in one of their favorite restaurants. Everything seemed to be going great for the two, until they discussed having children. Apparently, he didn’t plan to have kids anytime soon. He wanted to have them when he turned 36 years old, but then it would make her 48 years old by that time. It made the whole celebration awkward, and Mary couldn’t hide her disappointment.
A wedding proposal during the end of the first season
Romain and Mary were able to talk through some of the issues they were having. He said that he might not have expressed himself well to her. They had not really agreed on anything about having kids, but they were both assured of the love that they felt for one another. One of the other realtors told her that she could freeze her eggs, and when he’s ready for it, they could have a baby by that time. In the third episode of the first season, he proposed to her on the bed after they woke up. He brought out a ring, and she said ‘yes’.
An elegant and romantic TV wedding in the second season
“Selling Sunset” was the perfect platform for Romain and Mary’s wedding, and one of the real estate properties they had on The Oppenheim listing offered a perfect background for that occasion. She was a little perturbed that he wasn’t that keen on being involved with the preparations, and thought that he was quite indifferent about their wedding that she asked him if he was still interested in marrying her. He told her that he absolutely wanted to go through with it, but he was not really into making wedding plans, as he felt that it was a girl’s thing. Others said that it might have something to do with his age, and that he might be a little indecisive, so he left everything to her.
Mary was clearly in her element when she was able to kill two birds with one stone at the wedding venue. Initially, the original venue didn’t work out just weeks before the event, but there was this private residence, a French estate that Mary had on her listing for some time. She asked the owner to allow her to use it for her wedding, and the owner agreed. On the day of her wedding, she was still hustling on the side by closing a deal for the property. She shared, ‘I end up selling my wedding venue on my wedding day, which was amazing. I paused the wedding and sold it.’ Romain couldn’t be more proud of his beloved for what she achieved. His family flew in from France to be with him during the occasion. The couple recited their wedding vows in French, to pay tribute to his parents – Mary wasn’t well-versed in French, but Romain’s sister helped her with it.
Conflicting views on Romain’s decision not to invite Davina to the wedding
The controversy started when Mary announced her engagement, and showed the ring to her co-workers. She told them that Romain said that it might not be a real diamond, but his feelings were sincere, and that he would save up to give her the ring that she deserved. Davina Potratz asked how Mary felt that he gave her a ring that wasn’t a real diamond. Her other co-workers were stunned at her rudeness ,and felt that a diamond ring didn’t mean anything if the feelings of the person weren’t true. Mary was hurt, and when she told Romain, he decided that Davina wasn’t welcome at their wedding. Fans argued about it on social media, and some of them felt that it was immature of him not to invite the realtor, which caused some tension with the cast. Other fans thought that it was his right to bar anyone from attending his wedding if he felt uncomfortable about it.
Canceled Bali honeymoon
The couple meticulously planned for their honeymoon, and chose Bali, Indonesia for it. Both were very busy with their respective work, and couldn’t just take a break whenever they wanted to. Romain and Mary were happy when they were finally able to schedule some time for it, which was early May of 2020. However, when they arrived at the airport, their flight was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and global travel restrictions. They were both disappointed by the outcome, but Romain said that it was way better to have the flight canceled instead of flying for several hours only to find out that they were barred to enter the country or get stuck in a place for an indefinite time.
Celebrating our three year anniversary today! ❤️ @theromainbonnet Saying yes to you was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Posted by Mary Fitzgerald at The Oppenheim Group on Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Controversial TV wedding: Reel or Real
Romain and Mary’s TV wedding was such a huge hit with the fans of “Selling Sunset”, that months after that, there were several rumors that came out about them. Some of the fans felt that the wedding wasn’t real at all, as they learned that the couple had already married before they even started filming for the reality-TV show; there was something odd with the timeline of their relationship that was presented in the show. Romain and Mary admitted later on that they already had a civil union in 2018, because they had to at that time, but they both felt that they just signed the marriage certificate or it was just some paperwork for them. They never had a wedding, and so they wanted to make it right by having Romain’s family be part of it. It wasn’t their intention to deceive anyone, but they just felt that it wasn’t official yet, so they both firmly believed that the TV wedding was their official anniversary.
The fans should realize that “Selling Sunset” might be categorized as reality-TV, but it was what industry insiders referred to as ‘guided reality.’ One of the reasons why some of these reality shows became successful is because the narratives that the audience see on TV were planned not only by the cast members but also by the producers. Most of the stories that were shown on each episode were real, but structured to make them more appealing to the viewers.
Does that reduce your enjoyment, make you feel better, or just frustrate you? Regardless, apparently, it keeps you tuning in for the next thrilling, enthralling installment of…….