Who Is Robert Durst's Wife? Debrah Lee Charatan Is Just As Enigmatic As Her Husband
Married to one of the most infamous men in America right now, Robert Durst's wife Debrah Lee Charatan has seen her husband as the scion of a powerful New York real estate family, the star of the HBO documentary series The Jinx, and the suspect of three murders. But while her husband has snagged headlines left and right and had a feature film made about him, Charatan has largely remained an enigmatic figure. So, just who is Durst’s second wife, and why did she decide to marry a suspected murderer?
Like her husband, Charatan is involved in the New York City real estate business. She got her start at brokerage firm Bach Realty and now heads BCB Property Management. Although Durst is the descendant of a big-time real estate family, Real Estate Weekly reported in July 2014 that Charatan was the one in charge of investing Durst’s trust fund money into New York real estate.
Outside of real estate, the couple shares troubled pasts, and both are estranged from their respective families, The New York Times reports. Durst saw his own mother commit suicide when he was only 7 years old. Charatan is the daughter of parents who survived the Nazi terror in Poland during World War II. After the Durst family business was turned over to Durst's brother, Douglas, in 1994, Durst broke with his family. Charatan reportedly does not interact much with her mother and siblings, according to the Times.
The pair began dating in 1988, six years after Durst’s first wife Kathleen McCormack disappeared under mysterious circumstances, reports the Times. In 1990 — the same year that Durst officially divorced his missing first wife — the two moved into an apartment together on the Upper East Side. Their time living together was brief, but in December 2000, the pair secretly married.
This is where eyebrows began to be raised. The rabbi who married the couple told the New York Daily News that the ceremony was rushed, there was only one witness, and that Durst seemed “rather taciturn.” Moreover, a former co-worker of Charatan told the Times: “For Debbie, it’s all about the money. When she met Bob, she hit pay dirt.”
Vulture reports that the HBO series The Jinx speculates that Durst may have married Charatan because she knew too many of his secrets. As one interviewee said in the series’ penultimate episode: "A lot of people believe Debbie knows Bob’s secrets, whatever they may be." So, Durst might have married Charatan as a means of protecting his own secrets, as Charatan could not be compelled to testify against him under the law of spousal privilege. In fact, according to the New York Post, Durst told his sister Wendy that his relationship with Charatan was simply “a marriage of convenience.”
With those facts on the table, The Jinx’s suspicion that the marriage was little but a business deal to keep Durst’s secrets safe and to give Charatan the money she always wanted seems all the more plausible. But considering the facts that Charatan will likely not testify and that she declined to participate in the making of The Jinx, it’s unlikely we’ll hear more from Charatan or learn more about her and her reasons for marrying Durst. As her husband’s life unravels in the media, Charatan's will likely continue to stay in the shadows.