Rielle Hunter, whose scandalous affair with U.S. Sen. John Edwards during his 2008 bid for the White House— a relationship that resulted in the birth of a daughter who the married Edwards denied paternity of for more than two years after the child’s birth — has spent much of the past decade seeking the spotlight.
The 53-year-old has been mostly off the radar since 2013, when she attempted to eek out another 15 minutes with the re-release of a 2012 book she published following her affair — “What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me” — this time to purportedly own some of her mistakes, a claim many found specious.
As with the first edition, Hunter’s annotated version, entitled “In Hindsight, What Really Happened: The Revised Edition: John Edwards, My Daughter, and Me,” was not well received and she found herself on the receiving end of vicious critics who slammed her actions before, during and after her relationship with Edwards came to an end.
Here’s what you need to know:
1.Today, Hunter and Her 9-Year-Old Daughter, Frances Quinn, Live in a Wealthy, Equestrian Community Near Palm Beach
In December 2015, South Florida website Gossip Extra reported that Hunter had moved to Wellington, Fla., located some 15 miles west of the island of Palm Beach — home to President Donald Trump and numerous other billionaires.
The Washington Post published an article in January 2015 characterizing Wellington as an “opulent” equestrian enclave, complete with “country clubs, fleet(s) of luxury sports cars and high-end shops,” that is known as the “the Equestrian Capital of the World” for “wealthy and famous horse lovers” during the winter season.
Property records show that Hunter’s home is located in the pricey, gated Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club, which according to the community’s website, encompasses 2,200 acres and is home to “world-class recreation in the equestrian capital of America.”
Despite its $518,000 purchase price, Hunter’s home is one of the more moderately priced dwellings inside Palm Beach Polo. The Eagles Landing section where Hunter resides is one of 45 neighborhoods within the greater Palm Beach Polo, which boasts 36 holes of championship golf and two clubhouses with “premier” tennis and fitness facilities.
Palm Beach County Property Appraiser records show that Hunter’s home is owned by 2682 PLAYERS COURT LLC, a limited liability corporation which has the same Raleigh, North Carolina address as John Edwards’ law firm, Edwards Kirby.
It’s a three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath single-story that was built in 1990 and has a pool, according to the property appraiser. The home’s 2016 tax bill was $9,588.
Hunter and Edwards’ daughter, Frances Quinn, takes riding lessons and reportedly attends the Palm Beach International Academy, which caters to the horsey set.
The school bills itself as “the premier academic provider for young riders and equestrian families,” scheduling school work around show and training schedules. It has a center located near Wellington’s horse show grounds and tutors are also able to come to the child’s home if necessary, according to the school website.
Locals have seen Hunter driving a BMW SUV to take her daughter to riding lessons, where the child trains on a small horse.
Wellington residents have also encountered Hunter hob-knobbing inside the International Club, a VIP area at the Winter Equestrian Festival, where tables are rumored to cost $50,000 for the 12-week season.
One guest told Heavy.com that Hunter does not have her own table but was inside the private, members-only International Club as a guest. She was with a female friend, according to a source, and was dressed in a scarf and boots.
“She socializes here regularly,” a source told Heavy, clarifying that Hunter is “limited in that social set.”
“She spends time at Palm Beach Polo at social functions. Everybody has friends at some point and your kids have friends and that type of thing. Her kid didn’t do anything wrong, so it’s a challenge.
“I’ve heard on a couple occasions that she’s been at some parties. People know she’s here, but quite frankly, I think that story has lost it’s luster. She tries to blend in.”
2. Hunter’s Neighbors Include Some of the World’s Wealthiest People
In January, Business Insider offered a peek into Wellington, which the publication described as “a playground for the richest of the rich,” who converge upon this village of some 60,000 residents for the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, known as WEF, which takes place from January through April at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Gossip Extra reported that Hunter’s Wellington home backs onto a $10 million, 7-acre piece of land owned by Wall Street financier and billionaire Neil Hirsch.
But Hirsch is hardly the only person with deep pockets in the neighborhood.
Athina Onassis, heiress of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, plunked down $1.25 million for two vacant lots and purchased a spec home to be placed on it for another $2 million, South Florida real estate site The Real Deal reported in March 2015.
In March 2017, Onassis listed the 3,711-square-foot home for sale at a price of $3.25 million, according to Realtor.com.
In 2014, Boeing CEO W. James McNerney paid $7.2 million for a property in Hunter’s development, Palm Beach Polo & Country Club. And billionaire John C. Malone, chairman of “cable and telecom giant Liberty Global,” owns two Wellington properties, a $12.5 million, 97-acre farm and a 12,653-square-foot home in Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club (where Hunter lives) for $7.8 million, according to The New York Times a 2014 story.
Onassis owns another home in Wellington, according to The Real Deal, purchased in a $12 million cash transaction in 2014. The 5.6-acre property is in the gated Grand Prix Village neighborhood, located near the Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose daughter, Jennifer, is a competitive rider, “completed a $38 million purchase of an entire Wellington street, totaling six properties and about 20 acres,” according to The Real Deal.
And Apple founder Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, spent $15 million for 3.5 acres in Wellington. Like Gates, Jobs’ daughter Eve is “an accomplished rider and has competed against Jennifer Gates,” the publication reported.
Billionaire Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has a 300-acre property, Deeridge Farms, on which sits a 21,000-square-foot manse.
Other wealthy, part-time Wellington residents include Michael Bloomberg’s daughter, Georgina, and Bruce Springsteen, whose daughter, Jessica, competes in equestrian events.
Actor Tom Selleck’s daughter, Hannah, and Lola Consuelos, daughter of talk show host Kelly Ripa and her actor hubby Mark Consuelos, have also been spotted among Wellington’s equestrian set.
3.Hunter’s Attempt to Re-Brand Her Book with the Revised Edition Didn’t Seem to Change Any Minds
The day the revised edition of Hunter’s book went on sale, Huffington Post published a piece penned by Hunter entitled “I, Rielle Hunter, Apologize.”
In it, she claimed that in 2006 she “did not think about the scope of my actions, how my falling in love with John Edwards, and acting on that love, could hurt so many people. I hurt Elizabeth and her kids.”
She further explained that she “fell in love with John Edwards and wanted to be with him and that desire trumped everything else.”
It was her publisher, Hunter said, who suggested she go through her book and annotate all of her “regrets and mistakes.”
In a note to readers on the book’s Amazon page, Hunter writes that “instead of attempting to erase my mistakes, I am now owning them. I’ve annotated the original book. Typos have been corrected but not a word has been changed, not even words that cause me to cringe when I reread them. Instead I have put notes throughout—notes that acknowledge what I couldn’t when I wrote the book.”
The annotated version costs $8.79 on Amazon Kindle and received a two-star rating. Twenty-eight readers posted reviews.
One chided Hunter for being “as delusional as ever about John Edwards, and her role in his life.
“Being his hidden mistress is the only role John Edwards ever allowed Hunter to have with him. Her relationship with John Edwards was NEVER a ‘love story’ on John Edwards end. The story she tells is about a delusional woman who connived her way into a married man’s life. Then chased the trusting, unsuspecting idiot all over the country — from hotel to hotel. He used her for sex, and she used him for money and tricked the fool into an illegitimate kid.”
Another opined that despite its supposed apologies, the annotated version was no different than the first.
“This ‘hindsight’ scheme is a publicists concoction to recoup the losses from the first book. The commentary has a ghostwritten feel to it. I doubt Hunter actually feels this way about herself. Lady is just trying to get paid.”
In the book’s first edition, Hunter revealed that Edwards had affairs with other women before her. She also trashed his dead wife, Elizabeth, calling her “a ‘witch on wheels’ who drove Edwards to stray,” according to the New York Daily News.
She went on to characterize Elizabeth, who died less than a year after her husband admitted fathering a child with Hunter, “as a woman routinely angry at Edwards, who constantly ‘barks’ demands at her husband, summarily fires staffers and vigilantly works to maintain a public persona as a ‘saint,” ABC Newsreported.
Following the release of the annotated version, Hunter embarked on an apology tour of sorts, attempting to atone for her words and actions and to re-promote her book.
But during interviews, she continued to defend her relationship with the married Edwards, who had hired her to be his campaign videographer after she approached him outside New York’s Regency Hotel in February 2006 with the line “You are so hot.”
She went back to his hotel room that night and, according to her book, experienced “the most extraordinary night of my life. There was a lot of talk, a lot of laughter and zero sleep.”
In 2016, Hunter again made the talk show rounds, doing sit-downs with ABC News (joined by her then 8-year-old daughter) and Steve Harvey, to whom Hunter maintained that she and Edwards were “madly in love” and that theirs was not a “frivolous relationship.”
She did concede to Harvey that she “really, truly did not mean to hurt anybody” and that she “wasn’t thinking of anybody by myself.”
4. Hunter’s Sexual Escapades Made Her Famous Long Before Her Tryst with John Edwards
Author Jay McInerney, best known for his 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City, (later adapted to a screenplay), chronicling the hedonistic cocaine culture among Big Apple twenty-somethings, dated Hunter during that period and based the lead character of a subsequent book, Story of My Life, on her.
On his website, McInerney writes that he and Hunter briefly dated in the 1980s, when Hunter still went by her birth name, Lisa Druck.
McInerney was enthralled by Hunter and her friends, young equestrians who had moved to New York City. Their Valley Girl manner of speech and “the frankness with which they spoke about sex and men,” led McInerney to write from the perspective of a character he named Alison Poole — “an ostensibly jaded, cocaine-addled, sexually voracious 20-year-old” — who was modeled after Hunter (Druck).
When the Hunter-Edwards’ affair became public, McInerney explained that Hunter’s behavior during the time he knew her “intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience.”
A line from Poole’s character in the book:“The first year I was in New York I didn’t do anything but guys and blow.”
5.Hunter’s Life Could Be a Made-For-TV Movie
Hunter was born Lisa Jo Druck in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in 1964, a daughter of James and Gwen Druck. The Drucks moved to Ocala, Fla., where Lisa (Hunter) rode and showed horses.
James Druck was a lawyer who defended insurance companies and shortly before his death in the early 1990s, he was implicated in a high-profile horse-killing scam. Horse owners hired a man named Tommy “The Sandman” Burns to electrocute their horses to collect insurance money.
In a Sports Illustrated story published in 1992, Burns said that 10 years earlier, Druck hired him to kill a prized show jumper he owned named Henry the Hawk. Druck had a $150,000 insurance policy on the horse — who his daughter, Hunter, showed.
Burns said “Druck personally taught him how to rig the wires to electrocute Henry the Hawk: how to slice an extension cord down the middle into two strands of wire; how to attach a pair of alligator clips to the bare end of each wire; and how to attach the clips to the horse—one to its ear, the other to its rectum. All he had to do then, says Burns, was plug the cord into a standard wall socket. And step back.”
After leaving New York, Hunter, still Lisa Druck, moved to Los Angeles, where in 1991 she married a lawyer named Alexander Munro Hunter III, who went by the nickname Kip, according to a 2008 Los Angeles Times piece. (In a strange twist, the newspaper noted that Alexander Hunter’s father was the Boulder, Colo. district attorney during the murder investigation of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey).
In 1994, according to the Times, Lisa Druck legally changed her name to Riell (pronounced Ree-elle) Hunter, later adding another ‘e’ to the end. Rielle Hunter and her husband divorced in 2000.
While in Los Angeles, according to the newspaper, Hunter claimed that a healer cleared her energy field and after that “all desire for drugs or alcohol vanished. I became sober overnight. And then I became a spiritual seeker — addicted to higher consciousness, addicted to enlightenment.”
She returned to New York City in 2004 and two years later met Edwards.
“I will say this about her — she is a little kooky,” a casual friend told the Los Angeles Times. “She was a little lost. Not lost. She was more just always searching.”