In March 2019, Kylie Jenner made headlines for being hailed by Forbes as the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, a feat that owed to her eponymous beauty brand Kylie Cosmetics. What started out as a lip kit business eventually expanded to include more products, including a skincare line. Her status as billionaire beauty mogul was solidified when, in November 2019, she struck a deal with global beauty company COTY, the parent company of brands like CoverGirl and Max Factor. COTY bought 51% of Kylie Cosmetics’ shares for $600 million, resulting in a huge cashout for Kylie herself.
However, her net worth is now being questioned by Forbes after releasing a report yesterday, titled "Inside Kylie Jenner's Web of Lies—and Why She's No Longer a Billionaire," essentially backpedaling on their claim last year when they called her the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.
The aforementioned article accused the 22-year-old of “inflating the size and success of her business” for years. In a nutshell, Forbes says that Kylie Jenner’s camp has been exaggerating the company’s numbers to make the company bigger than it really is. Forbes also says that her side had gone through unusual lengths to prove her net worth to the title, such as “inviting Forbes into their mansions and CPA’s offices, and even creating tax returns that were likely forged.”
According to Forbes, Kylie Cosmetics had been feeding the public false numbers, and successfully so. “Revenues were $400 million over the business’ first 18 months, they said, with a personal take-home pay of $250 million for Kylie.” In its first year alone, the company claims to have earned $300 million in revenue, a staggering number that drew both suspicions and amazement from analysts. The following year, 2017, the company grew by 7% to $330 million. And, come 2018, she finally landed a cover on Forbes as the 27th richest self-made female billionaire.
When 2019 came rolling along, though, and the COTY deal was made, Forbes reports that they had noticed discrepancies with the numbers that Kylie Cosmetics had been campaigning and the actual numbers in their books. A COTY presentation made prior to the deal shows that in 2018, the company raked in sales of $125 million, which begged the question: How could it have earned more than $300 million the year before?
Aside from the discrepancies regarding revenues, there is also the claim that Kylie owns only 44.1% of the company, according to the report—Kris Jenner allegedly owns a small chunk of it.
In a word, Forbes claims that Kylie Jenner had been lying about her net worth all this time.
The beauty mogul herself responded to these accusations through Twitter. She denies having ever lied about her wealth and says that there are more important matters she needs to attend to other than discussing how rich she is. "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. I’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. Period," she tweeted. "I am blessed beyond my years. I have a beautiful daughter and a successful business, and I’m doing perfectly fine."
Hours ago, it was announced that COTY’s shares had in fact plummeted because of the Forbes report. Its shares dropped by 13%, according to Time.
Independent reached out both to Kylie’s camp and Forbes. A spokesperson from the latter said, “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.”
Meanwhile, Kylie’s lawyer, Michael Kump, told People: “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 three 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.”