Remember back in 2018, when we all laughed at Forbes calling Kylie Jenner a self-made billionaire? Well, nearly two years later, they’re finally changing their tune on Kylie, but oddly enough, the “self-made” part isn’t the issue. On Friday, Forbes published a scathing article, titled “Inside Kylie Jenner’s Web Of Lies—And Why She’s No Longer A Billionaire”. Grab the popcorn and make yourself some tea, because things are about to get savage.
When Forbes made their billionaire claim about Kylie Jenner in 2018, it was based off an estimated $900 million valuation of Kylie Cosmetics, which at the time was reportedly 100% owned by Kylie. Kylie’s billionaire status became official last fall, when she sold 51% of Kylie Cosmetics to Coty in a deal that valued the brand at $1.2 billion. But the new Forbes report is a damning look into false reporting, forged documents, and a level of thirst that’s almost beyond comprehension, until you remember which family we’re dealing with here.
Kylie launched her initial line of lip kits in 2015, and there’s no question that the business was an instant success. Products sold out instantly, new lines were added, and Kylie Cosmetics quickly became a cultural force. And that’s when the thirst started. Soon after Kim Kardashian West got her own Forbes cover in 2016, “Jenner publicists began a campaign to ‘get a Forbes cover for Kylie.'” This campaign included meetings at Kris Jenner’s house and accountants’ offices, and the family handed over tax returns that were, literally, hard to believe. According to the documents, Kylie Cosmetics brought in over $300 million in revenue in its first full year of business, and Kylie had a personal income of $110 million, which would have put Kylie at number two on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list of Hollywood’s top earners. But Forbes, along with “a handful of analysts and industry experts,” “found the numbers implausible.”
Forbes ultimately decided on a lower, more reasonable estimate for Kylie’s personal income. They pegged her income at a lowly $41 million, which saw her bumped from number two on the Celebrity 100 list, all the way to 59th place. According to the new report, Kris Jenner’s PR team told Forbes that they were “so frustrated” with Kylie’s placement on the list, because “we’ve done so much.” I can only imagine how hard that must have been for them, wow.
While the people at Forbes never really believed those numbers from 2016, and even go so far as to suggest that the tax returns were forged, they later became public, and were widely reported as fact. Projections for Kylie Cosmetics’ future skyrocketed, and the hype continued to grow. The next year, the Jenners reported to Forbes that revenue in 2017 had increased t0 $330 million, and these numbers apparently seemed legit enough to Forbes, or maybe they just got sick of Kris calling and showing up unannounced at their offices, because they finally gave Kylie her coveted cover. The magazine estimated her personal net worth at $900 million, which meant she would soon become, as we’ve all heard, the youngest self-made billionaire ever.
After a year and a half of sucking up to Forbes, the Kardashian-Jenners were obviously thrilled with the cover, and staff at Kylie’s 21st birthday party even wore shirts with the cover printed on them. Aside from the obvious eye-roll at calling Kylie “self-made,” many people were also still skeptical about her designation as a billionaire. But those concerns were seemingly put to rest by the Coty deal, which seemed to cement her billionaire status.
But many people suspected Coty had overpaid for their stake in the company, and when taking a closer look at the deal, holes start to appear. Too bad these ones can’t be filled with Restylane! Filings from Coty report that sales of Kylie Cosmetics products totaled $177 million in the 12 months before the deal, and were just $125 million in 2018. This is a far cry from the $300+ million that Kylie and fam had previously bragged about, and that wasn’t the only discrepancy. Kylie’s team told Forbes that Kylie Skin did $100 million in sales in the first month and a half, but the Coty filings show that the company’s sales were only $25 million for all of 2019. These numbers are so much smaller than the ones previously reported, that Forbes sees only two possible options. Either the numbers from Kylie’s team were never real to begin with, or Kylie Cosmetics went from $300 million in 2016, to just $125 million two years later. There’s no real evidence that business has dropped that sharply, so the only logical conclusion is that Kylie was lying to Forbes all along. Honestly, fitting for a company that was built on the lie that Kylie was just over-lining her lips .
The Forbes report also raises some questions about Kylie Jenner’s ownership stake in Kylie Cosmetics. It’s long been reported that Kylie was previously the sole owner of her brand, so it would be assumed that she now, after selling the majority stake, she owns 49%. But Coty’s purchase agreement “lists a ‘KMJ 2018 Irrevocable Trust,’ controlled by Kristen M. Jenner, as owning a profit interest in Kylie Cosmetics. Upon the sale, the document says the trust would get a capital, or ownership, interest in the company.” In Kardashian speak: if you know anything about Kris Jenner, it’s that she never forgets to take her 10 percent. So basically, when Kylie cashed out of her company, 10 percent of the money went into this trust which is almost definitely controlled by Kris, which means Kylie actually only owns 44.1% of her company.
I’m not into math, but all of this means that Kylie Jenner doesn’t have as much money as we previously thought. In fact, these new findings are drastic enough that, when combined with the economic situation created by the pandemic, Forbes has decided that Kylie Jenner is no longer a billionaire. Considering all the factors, Forbes says that there’s “no way to realistically peg Kylie’s net worth above a billion.” For someone who basically turned her Forbes cover into a personality, this has got to sting.
After the Forbes article went up on Friday morning, Kylie Jenner wasted no time before making her thoughts known. She posted a tweet bashing Forbes for their “inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions,” saying that she’s “never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there.” She also called out the suggestion that Forbes was shown fake tax returns, pointing out that the only “proof” offered in the article is that Forbes didn’t believe the numbers. I’ll admit, I’m wondering about that as well, but I don’t automatically believe Kylie, either.
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
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) May 29, 2020
In a subsequent tweet, Kylie seemed to insinuate that we and Forbes shouldn’t be talking about how much money she has when there are so many more important things going on. Which is funny coming from her, because back when the issue came out in July 2018, she was all too happy to post about the cover on multiple platforms just so people could fixate on how much money she had. Convenient that she wants to have it both ways. To her credit, Kylie did post on Instagram about George Floyd’s murder, but she also posted about getting an influencer package for the new Despicable Me movie on the same day.
i can name a list of 100 things more important right now than fixating on how much money i have
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) May 29, 2020
So Kylie may not be a billionaire anymore, but before you start setting up a GoFundMe for Kylie’s living expenses, don’t worry, Forbes still estimates that she’s worth $900 million. If that number is right, then it’s only a matter of time before she gets reinstated in the billionaires club, but I have a feeling Forbes won’t be celebrating her achievements the second time around. Personally, I’d like to hear more about the allegedly forged tax returns, and I have a feeling the IRS might be interested in those as well. We all know Kris Jenner loves a good publicity stunt, and I’m sure a tax fraud trial would send those KUWTK ratings through the roof!
Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; kyliejenner / Twitter