Kylie Jenner LIED about being a billionaire, may have forged tax returns to amp up net worth, says Forbes
The 22-year-old was named the youngest-ever self-made billionaire in 2019
Forbes has backtracked from its previous evaluation of Kylie Jenner's fortune that made her one of a little over 2,000 people in the world who can call themselves billionaires and accused her of spinning a "web of lies" to inflate her net-worth.
In 2019, Forbes had announced that Kylie, 22, had unseated Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest-ever self-made billionaire — the Facebook founder had made his first billion 11 years ago at the age of 23 in 2008.
The magazine had subsequently put the social media star on their cover, though they have now accused her of "lying about company figures and forging tax returns" to reach her billionaire status.
While the 22-year-old sold 51 percent of her company, Kylie Cosmetics, to beauty giant Coty in a deal valued $1.2 billion this January, Forbes said that the estimated $340 million she pocketed after taxes would still not be enough to push her fortune beyond the 10-figure mark.
They pointed to filings released by Coty, a publicly-traded company, over the past six months to highlight inconsistencies that they insisted prove her business is not as big she has led people to believe.
"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," they wrote.
"Revenues over a 12-month period preceding the deal: $177million according to the Coty presentation, far lower than the published estimates 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."
Forbes said Kylie's representatives had told them that her skincare line, which she launched in May 2019, had raked in $100 million in revenues in its first month and a half. However, the filings showed the line was "on track" to finish the year with just a quarter that amount and had just $25 million in sales.
They went on to suggest that, by extrapolating from that data, the numbers she offered for revenues could not have been true either. If Kylie Cosmetics did $125 million in sales in 2018, how could it have done $307 million in 2016 as the company's tax returns state, they asked. By the same reasoning, $330 million in 2017 was unreasonable as well.
While one possibility for it could be that Kylie's business quietly fell by more than half in a single year and Coty just paid for a "high-growth" that is a much smaller business that what it was a few years ago, industry experts said such a scenario was near-impossible.
"It seems unlikely that much revenue could have evaporated overnight," said Evercore analyst Omar Saad.
"There doesn’t seem to be any evidence the business has cratered," added cosmetics veteran Jeffrey Ten. "If so, why would Coty buy it?”
Forbes said their new calculations put Kylie's fortune at just under $900 million. But why fudge the numbers?
"It's fair to say that everything the Kardashian-Jenner family does is oversized," said Stephanie Wissink, an equity analyst covering consumer products at Jefferies. "To stay on-brand, it needs to be bigger than it is."