Kate Spade, the prominent fashion designer who tragically committed suicide, was married with one child and was the sister-in-law to Hollywood actor David Spade.
News of Kate Spade’s untimely death at age 55 broke on June 5, 2018 with word that she hanged herself with a scarf in the $6.2 million Manhattan apartment she shared with her husband and their 13-year-old daughter. Coach purchased her handbag company for more than $2 billion in 2017, and she left behind a legacy of success and artistry. She was born Katherine Noel Brosnahan and raised in Missouri. Spade reportedly left a suicide note in which she told her daughter the death wasn’t the teen’s fault.
“Bea – I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask daddy,” TMZ is reporting the note said. Page Six has it slightly different; “This has nothing to do with you. Don’t feel guilty. Ask your dad.”
“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” her family said in a statement. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.” Andy Spade also released a lengthy statement, calling her the “most beautiful woman in the world.”
Who were the family members she left behind?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kate Spade Met Her Husband, Andy Spade, in College
Who was Kate Spade’s husband? His name is Andy Spade, and they had been married since 2004. According to TMZ, “She and Andy met while attending Arizona State University and working at a clothing store. Together, they launched Kate Spade Handbags in 1993,” and the company soon expanded into other areas, like stationary and eyewear. Eventually, it became a fashion powerhouse and Kate’s name became well-known.
Page Six is reporting that Kate Spade was agonized in the end over relationship problems. TMZ alleges that Andy Spade had told Kate he wanted a divorce and moved to an apartment, but she didn’t want the divorce. Furthermore, one of her sisters has opened up about her bipolar disorder, saying that Kate refused to get help for her mental health issues because she didn’t want to harm her brand.
“My little sister Katy was a precious, precious little person,” Reta Saffo told DailyMail.com. “Genuine in almost every way. Just dear – but she was surrounded by YES people, for far too long, therefore she did not receive the proper care for what I believed to be (and tried numerous times to get her help for) bipolar disorder… stemming from her immense celebrity.” The sister also said that Kate seemed fixated on Robin Williams’ death by suicide.
In the statement he gave to The New York Times, Andy Spade revealed the couple was living separately and said Kate had sought help for depression and anxiety. “We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already,” he wrote of himself and the couple’s daughter Bea.
In Arizona, Kate once worked in a motorcyle bar that Andy Spade frequented, according to The New York Times. Even then, her individualistic fashion sense caught his attention. “You’d walk in, and she was the only one in the pink crew-neck sweater,” Andy told the newspaper, which describes how integrally involved he was in the couple’s new handbag venture that bore his wife’s name, even draining his 401K account to buy fabric in the early days. There were so many boxes in their apartment that they had to stay with friends, The Times recounted.
“So, Andy and I were out, honestly, at a Mexican restaurant,” Kate Spade said of the moment the idea hatched for the brand, “and he just said, what about handbags? And I said, honey, you just don’t start a handbag company. And he said, why not? How hard can it be? I thought, OK, really? He regrets those words.”
Kate and her husband worked in the fashion industry together as partners until the end, although both Spades sold their stake in the Kate Spade company in 2006. They “launched a new venture, selling handbags and shoes, called Frances Valentine in 2016,” Newsweek reports.
The famous “Kate Spade” brand name actually originally was supposed to be a combination of Kate and Andy’s names because she was still using her maiden name when they created the company.
The New York Times reports that Kate Spade’s husband was at the scene when the housekeeper called 911 to report Kate’s suicide. Andy Spade once worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency when the couple got their start. Kate Spade’s college degree was in journalism.
2. Kate Spade Left Behind a Young Daughter Whose Name Graces Her New Fashion Line
Kate Spade’s daughter with husband Andy Spade was born in 2005. Her daughter’s name is Frances Beatrix Spade.
According to Moneyish, Kate took “a near-decade long hiatus to raise her daughter,” before staging her comeback with the Frances Valentine brand that bears her daughter’s first name. She told the site she wouldn’t trade the time with her daughter in a “million years.”
The 2017 article reported that Frances, then 12, would sometimes ask “why there are shoes with her mom’s name in them.” When the new company Frances Valentine was created, Kate Spade revealed that she had changed her last name to Kate Valentine. She told Business of Fashion that the change was made to “distinguish the name, and separate the two worlds” of her past company and present, adding, “It kind of makes [me] sound kind of cool, like a rap star or something.” The new company’s focus was on shoes, although it does sell some handbags.
Andy Spade told Business of Fashion, “I think it’s a good example for my daughter to see her mother work. Not that she didn’t before, but to see her work [as a designer].” Police say Andy Spade was at the apartment when his wife died.
“My grandfather, father, brother, and my daughter’s name is Frances. And then Valentine was my mom’s dad’s middle name because he was born on Valentine’s Day,” Kate explained to WWD of her new brand’s name.
“The showroom at 80 West 40th Street here is decorated like a stylishly homey townhouse with furniture from the Spades’ former house in Long Island and walls full of art Andy has collected,” WWD said of the Frances Valentine venture.
Kate told Kansas City Star of her daughter, “I think what’s nice is that she gets to see both the stay-at-home mom and the working mom and know there is an option. One is not better than the other. It’s my choice and that’s amazing. And even though we’re launching the new brand, she is my priority. And I’m still making time for class mom duty.”
3. Kate Spade Was the Sister-in-Law of the Actor David Spade
Kate Spade is related to the actor David Spade through marriage. He’s the brother of her husband, Andy Spade. David Spade has two brothers; in addition to Andy, there is a third brother named Bryan Spade.
IMDB reports that the Spade brothers were born in Michigan but moved to Scottsdale Arizona early on. Kate and Andy Spade met at Arizona State University, which is the university that David Spade also attended, graduating with a degree in business, according to IMDB.
4. Spade’s Father Owned a Construction Company in Missouri & Her Niece Is an Actress
Although Kate Spade made her name with designer handbags, she came from a family in a very different business: Construction. According to The New York Times, her father ran a family construction business.
The company built roads and bridges in Kansas City, The Times reported. Kate Spade also grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, according to The Times. The New York Times called Kate Spade “a nice girl who grew up with Buicks and Schwinns near the country club in Kansas City.”
Kate had another famous relative. Rachel Brosnahan, who starred in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. “…I do know that one of Aunt Katie’s influences was my fabulous grandmother, June, who always had a closet full of amazing shoes and scarves and handbags,” Rachel told The Los Angeles Times. Rachel’s father, Earl, is Kate’s brother.
Kate’s sister Eve Brosnahan said through tears to The New York Daily News, “It’s very difficult. I can’t right now. I just can’t.”
5. Kate & Andy Spade Have a Net Worth of More Than $200 Million
Kate Spade left her family a fortune. Her net worth was estimated at around $200 million.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, after college in Arizona, Kate moved to New York, initially working as an editor and head of accessories for Mademoiselle magazine before creating her own line of handbags in 1993.
Eventually, the purses ended up in luxury retailers, like Saks Fifth Avenue. Celebrity Net Worth reports that the Spade empire grew to include everything from stationary to glasses before it was sold in 1999. Kate Spade was also an author and she created a television network with her husband that “broadcasts in the elite vacation spots of the Hamptons, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard,” the site reports.
Andy Spade has not released a statement on his wife’s untimely death, and it’s not yet clear what drove Kate Spade to take her own life.