Jennifer Davis
Jun 05, 2018 @ 9:45 pm

UPDATED 6/6/18: An anonymous source close to Kate Spade's family has told People magazine that Spade's sister, Retta Brosnahan Saffo, has long been estranged from the designer. This contradicts the quotes Saffo gave the press on Tuesday about Spade.

"The family is disgusted and saddened that at this time of great sorrow, Kate’s sister who has been estranged from the entire family for more than 10 years would choose to surface with unsubstantiated comments,” the source said. “Her statements paint a picture of someone who didn’t know her at all.”

The news of Kate Spade unexpected death rocked the fashion world and celebrities alike, but according to her sister, Reta Brosnahan Saffo, it wasn't quite as unexpected. 

In an e-mail sent from her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Saffo told the Kansas City Star that the famous designer suffered from a debilitating mental illness for the last three or four years and was self-medicating with alcohol. According to Saffo, her family tried to help Spade, but she was resistant because she was concerned with how it would affect her "happy-go-lucky" brand.

"I'd flown out to Napa and NYC several times in the past 3-4 years to help her to get the treatment she needed (inpatient hospitalization)," she wrote. "I'd come so VERY close to getting her to go in for treatment (to the same place Catherine Zeta-Jones went for her successful bipolar treatment program). I'd spoken with them on the phone (not telling them exactly who the patient would be). They agreed to fly in and talk with her and take her with them to the treatment center." 

Unfortunately, she was all set to go but decided not to at the last minute. "In the end, the 'image' of her brand (happy-go-lucky Kate Spade) was more important for her to keep up. She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out."

"After numerous attempts, I finally let go," Saffo continued. "Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves!" 

RELATED: The Power of a Kate Spade Bag

Saffo also relayed an anecdote about Spade's fixation on Robin Williams's death in 2014. "We were freaked out/saddened," Saffo said in regards to the actor's passing. "But she kept watching it and watching it over and over. I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then."

Her sister isn't the only family member to comment on Spade's apparent death by suicide. Her brother-in-law, actor David Spade, took to social media to express is heartbreak. 

RELATED: Kate Spade’s Best Business Advice Through the Years

"Katy at my book signing. I love this pic of her. So pretty. I dont think everyone knew how fucking funny she was... Its a rough world out there people. Try to hang on," he wrote along with a photo.

If you or anyone you know needs help, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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