The Jenner-Kardashian empire popularised the idea of being famous for being famous.
It’s an industry that has attracted much scrutiny over the years. Their wealth is determined by their brand, and it seems that they’ll do just about anything to legitimise it.
These attempts have often exposed the Jenner-Kardashians to ridicule, as their shortsightedness exposes a lack of business acumen.
Then there’s Kylie Jenner, who has been accused of plagiarism multiple times.
Despite some controversy, she did manage to make it onto Forbes’ rich list, where she was celebrated as a “self-made billionaire”.
The ‘self-made’ part really rankled most people.
In January this year, she sold her makeup brand Kylie Cosmetics in a deal with Coty valued at $1,2 billion.
But, according to Forbes, things are not as they seem.
In the deal’s fine print, a less flattering truth emerged. Filings released by publicly traded Coty over the past six months lay bare one of the family’s best-kept secrets: Kylie’s business is significantly smaller, and less profitable, than the family has spent years leading the cosmetics industry and media outlets, including Forbes, to believe.
Of course, white lies, omissions and outright fabrications are to be expected from the family that perfected—then monetized—the concept of “famous for being famous.”
But, similar to Donald Trump’s decades-long obsession with his net worth, the unusual lengths to which the Jenners have been willing to go—including inviting Forbes into their mansions and CPA’s offices, and even creating tax returns that were likely forged—reveals just how desperate some of the ultra-rich are to look even richer.
This new information suggested that, despite the $340 million after taxes that Kylie took away from the deal with Coty, she might not actually be worth billions.
In true Kardashian style, Kylie began her cosmetics brand with a scandal. The tabloids said that she used lip fillers, she denied it, and then fessed up to it before launching a range of lipsticks and lip liners which quickly sold out.
She has collected also raked in good money through modelling and appearances in Keeping Up With The Kardashians. By the end of 2016, she had amassed a whole range of makeup products.
Her net worth, however, despite claims that Kylie Cosmetics had gone from nothing to $300 million in sales in a single year, was hard to swallow.
Forbes outlines the full story, year-by-year in a detailed article, which you can read in full, here.
For our purposes, let’s fast forward to 2020, and Forbes’ summary of events:
The business was never that big to begin with, and the Jenners have lied about it every year since 2016—including having their accountant draft tax returns with false numbers—to help juice Forbes’ estimates of Kylie’s earnings and net worth. While we can’t prove that those documents were fake (though it’s likely), it’s clear that Kylie’s camp has been lying.
There’s also the issue of profit: Forbes had been estimating that her business, which has little overhead, was notching 44% net margins. But Coty’s filings indicate that Kylie’s profits are likely lower than we figured, since her Ebitda margin—which factors in some, but not all, of her expenses—is only around 25%.
Forbes has now recalculated Kylie’s net worth and concluded that she is not a billionaire.
According to IOL, she was quick to clap back at the publication, with the threat of a lawsuit.
[Jenner’s] lawyer Michael Kump has issued a statement insisting Forbes’ article contains “outright lies”, and demanding the company retract their comments.
Michael said in his statement: “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.”
The fact that the article is still on Forbes’ site tells us that they won’t be taking this one lying down.
As for the Jenner-Kardashians, perhaps fame can only get you so far.
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