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The Break Down: Why Forbes Took Back Kylie Jenner’s Billionaire Status

The Break Down: Why Forbes Took Back Kylie Jenner’s Billionaire Status

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For 22-year-old Kylie, beauty mogul, mom and celebrity with a massive following, being a billionaire was perhaps the least of her expectations. When Forbes Magazine declared Kylie Jenner a billionaire in 2019, the young achiever was wowed. 

In a tweet of acknowledgement, the star wrote, “I’m so blessed to do what I love every day, I couldn’t have dreamt this up!”

The whole world was stunned. How did she do it at such a young age?

kylie-jenner-billionaire-cover

 

2019: Kylie Billionaire – How it all started

The road to acclaimed billionaire status was a tedious climb. Kylie’s very supportive fans during that time in fact set up a gofundme account in an attempt to push the star closer to billionaire status. In March of 2019, Forbes finally made the declaration, giving Kylie her very own Forbes magazine cover and crowning her ‘the youngest self-made billionaire’.

At this time, the controversy was not surrounding her billionaire status but Forbes’ use of the word; self-made. To justify its use, the magazine specified that she was self-made because her business was built up and not inherited from family wealth.

kylie-jenners-billionaire-forbes-drama
Forbes Magazine, 2019 | Jamel Toppin

2020: The accusation – No longer a billionaire

On the 29th of May, 2020, Forbes wrote an exposé accusing Kylie Jenner, her family and company of lying, forgery and fabrication of tax returns. According to Forbes, the ultimate goal was to get Kylie on the cover of Forbes. This allegedly started a few months after her sister, Kim Kardashian West scored a Forbes cover in July 2016 as one of the topmost female celebrity earners. Kylie’s publicists then began a campaign to “get a Forbes cover for Kylie.”

Forbes Magazine, 2019 | Jamel Toppin

According to Forbes,

  • Kylie’s team repeatedly invited them to look at the tax returns and earnings. The earnings showed that in Kylie’s Cosmetics first 18 months of operation, they had amassed revenue of $400 million with Kylie’s personal take-home pay summed to a whopping $250 million.
  • The figures introduced in the claims seemed so unrealistic to them and even to the industry experts they approached.
  • It was after much calculation, the magazine was forced to place her on the list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities in 2017 at the No. 59 spot.
kylie-jenners-billionaire-forbes-drama
Photo by Allen Berezovsky

What changed

Frustrated momager, Kris Jenner was not having it, according to the Jenners’ PR. They had worked so hard. By August of 2017, Kylie was featured in the top magazine, WWD with the same high figures that were refuted by Forbes. In no time, top publications began to share the news that later that year the same industry experts and analyst had begun to see this revenue as plausible. A further investigation now resting on the shoulders of an even higher revenue figure of $330 million placed Kylie on Forbes’ list of top earners again in 2018. This time at No. 27.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 27: Kylie Jenner attends the premiere of Netflix’s “Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly” at Barker Hangar on August 27, 2019, in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David Livingston/WireImage)

The alleged evidence

This entire story fell apart when Billionaire business, Coty announced that it had acquired 51% of Kylie’s Cosmetics valued at $600 Million. Kylie’s Cosmetics was now worth $1.2 Billion. While Coty saw this deal as beneficial, its financial advisers began to raise their brows not only at the commitment of Kylie to the brand after its purchase but also to the figures spoken about.

The key concerns were:

  • Kylie’s revenue over a 12-month period before the deal with Coty was seen to be way lower than the estimated amount of $360 million Kylie and team had published in all those magazines and the much worse sales were said to have grown up 40% since 2018.
  • Kylie’s skincare brand which launched in 2019, was said to have sold $100 million in its first month and a half meanwhile, actual filings show that they were only on the way to finishing the year with $25 million in sales.
  • Kylie actually owns just 44% of her 49% share. The rest is said to be owned by momager, Kris Jenner. Not a far-fetched conclusion as Kris has been a backbone and instrumental in making the business decisions for the family.

Forbes magazine attempted to reach out to the family for clarity of these details filed by Coty’s financial team but the usually open family refused to answer any questions.

 
Forbes Magazine, 2019 | Jamel Toppin

Kylie Jenner’s Response

When Forbes hit publish on its article and the news about Kylie’s now-defunct billionaire status came to the fore, Kylie immediately took to Twitter to express her disgust in the following tweets.

She denies ever lying her way to get any title saying that all she sees from Forbes are a number of “inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions.”

kylie-jenners-billionaire-forbes-drama
Kris Jenner (L) and Kylie Jenner (R) |Photograph: Vivien Killilea

As it stands, sources close to the Jenners claim that Kylie is angry at momager, Kris Jenner and is refusing to pick her calls because of the accusations. She (Kris) is ‘at a loss for who to trust’ and ‘petrified Kylie could sack her or cut her off’.

Key things to think about with this entire drama would be:

  1. The Forbes vetting process. Is it as airtight as they say? Or is it based on unverifiable details or easily cooked up numbers? Whatever the answer to this, it is then crucial to look back at the other top-persons lists to see if we can indeed agree with the “facts” detailed.
  2. Many of the analysts have said that in the business of entertainment, many entertainers exaggerate their lives to fit the status quo and expectations of fans. If this really is true then we will have to take our perceptions of these celebrities with a grain of salt. Make that pink Himalayan salt.

Read the full article here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


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