Turns out Kylie Jenner may not be a billionaire after all.
In a piece entitled “Inside Kylie Jenner’s Web of Lies — and Why She’s No Longer a Billionaire,” Forbes accuses the Kardashian-Jenner family of “white lies, omissions and outright fabrications” when it comes to their claims of how much they’re actually worth.
The 22-year-old reality TV star responded to the accusations in the Forbes piece via a series of tweets Friday.
“What am i even waking up to. i thought this was a reputable site.. all i see are a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions lol. i’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. period,” the beauty mogul tweeted.
In response, a Forbes spokesperson gave TheWrap the following statement: “Today’s extensively-reported investigation was triggered by newly-filed documents that revealed glaring discrepancies between information privately supplied to journalists and information publicly supplied to shareholders. Our reporters spotted the inaccuracies and spent months uncovering the facts.”
As of April 9, Forbes was still hailing Jenner as “the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.” And though many have taken issue with using the term “self-made” to refer a young woman whose extremely wealthy family certainly aided her in growing her successful cosmetics business, Forbes also said in their story that all the term really means is that Jenner didn’t inherit her money, she earned it. The publisher first called Jenner a billionaire in their August 2018 cover story.
Now, Forbes is saying that the famous “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” family lied to them about how much Jenner’s makeup company was actually worth, and that in reality, Kylie Cosmetics is a lot “smaller and less profitable” than they led the media and the public to believe.
They inflated those numbers, Forbes says, “by creating tax returns that were likely forged.” Now, the magazine estimates Jenner’s net worth to be “just under $900 million.”
Jenner also responded to the tax fraud accusation, writing, “‘Even creating tax returns that were likely forged’ that’s your proof? so you just THOUGHT they were forged? like actually what am i reading.” Read the rest of Jenner’s tweets on the subject here.
According to Forbes, their questions about Jenner’s net worth became more pressing when beauty giant Coty bought a 51% stake in Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million in November 2019, which seemed to value the business at approximately $1.2 billion. But Kylie’s revenues, which Forbes says came from Coty’s own presentation, showed that she made just $177 million over the last 12 months before the sale — drastically lower than the estimates being publicized at the time.
“More problematic, Coty said that sales were up 40% from 2018, meaning the business only generated about $125 million that year, nowhere near the $360 million the Jenners had led Forbes to believe,” the magazine stated. “Kylie’s skincare line, which launched in May 2019, did $100 million in revenues in its first month and a half, Kylie’s reps told us. The filings show the line was actually ‘on track’ to finish the year with just $25 million in sales.”
That’s a far cry from the $307 million the Jenners’ tax returns claimed Kylie was making in 2016, Forbes continued.
Reps for Coty did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Rather than chalking it up to a major collapse in Kylie’s business model between 2016 and 2019 — though the effects of the coronavirus have certainly hurt the beauty industry overall — Forbes says the likelier explanation is that it was never that big to begin with, and that the Jenners have been inflating the numbers from the beginning.
Later on Friday, Jenner’s lawyer, Michael Kump, weighed in with the following statement to TheWrap:
“We have reviewed Forbes’ article accusing Kylie of engaging in deceit and a “web of lies” to inflate her net worth. The article is filled with outright lies. Forbes’ accusation that Kylie and her accountants “forged tax returns” is unequivocally false and we are demanding that Forbes immediately and publicly retract that and other statements. It is sad that, of all things, Forbes has devoted 3 reporters to investigate the effect of the coronavirus crisis on Kylie’s net worth. We would not expect that from a supermarket tabloid, much less from Forbes.”