Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 July 2020

Is she a billionaire or isn't she? Why 'Forbes' has stripped Kylie Jenner of her title

The beauty entrepreneur and reality TV star has been accused of faking her way to astonishing wealth

Kylie Jenner has been accused of inflating her fortune by 'Forbes' magazine. AP
Kylie Jenner has been accused of inflating her fortune by 'Forbes' magazine. AP

In March 2019, Forbes dubbed Kylie Jenner, then aged 21, the world's youngest "self-made" billionaire. The title drew ire from some, who accused the beauty entrepreneur and reality TV star, who hails from the prevalent Kardashian-Jenner family, of being anything but self-made.

And now, more than a year on, Jenner's title is back in the spotlight yet again.

The skincare and make-up mogul has been stripped of her billionaire status by the American business magazine, which has accused the now-22-year-old of faking her way on to its billionaire list.

Why has she been taken off the billionaire list?

In a report titled "Inside Kylie Jenner's web of lies", published on Friday, May 29, Forbes alleges the mother of one embellished the size and success of her business in paperwork.

"No one cares more about the topic than the family itself, which has spent years fighting Forbes for higher spots on our annual wealth and celebrity earnings lists," the magazine detailed.

Jenner sold 51 per cent of her business, Kylie Cosmetics, to beauty giant Coty last year, for $600 million (Dh2.2bn).

However, filings released by the publicly traded cosmetics company have unveiled that Jenner's business is "significantly smaller, and less profitable" than Forbes had been led to believe.

The celebrity family's accountant had provided tax returns that showed Kylie Cosmetics had made more than $300m in sales in 2016, along with claims it had $330m of sales in 2017, according to Forbes. The magazine has now asserted those tax returns were "likely forged".

A Coty presentation to investors suggested the company had made about $125m in sales in 2018.

"If Kylie Cosmetics did $125 million in sales in 2018, how could it have done $307 million in 2016 (as the company's supposed tax returns state) or $330 million in 2017?" Forbes asked, adding that virtually every expert it spoke to believed "business couldn’t have collapsed by so much so quickly".

"While we can’t prove that those documents were fake (though it’s likely), it’s clear that Kylie’s camp has been lying," the magazine concluded, along with predicting Jenner's personal fortune at just shy of $900m.

What has Jenner got to say about the situation?

Shortly after the Forbes article was published, the entrepreneur took to Twitter to claim the story was based on "inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions".

"What am I even waking up to. I thought this was a reputable site," Jenner wrote. "I’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there ever."

Jenner launched Kylie Cosmetics in 2015, selling $29 lip kits containing matching lipstick and lip liners. The range has grown to include eyeshadow palettes, eyeliners, concealers, blushes and highlighters, as well as a skincare line under the brand Kylie Skin.

“Even creating tax returns that were likely forged, that’s your proof?" the reality TV star added regarding the Forbes article. "So you just thought they were forged? Like actually what am I reading.

"But OK, I am blessed beyond my years, I have a beautiful daughter, and a successful business and I’m doing perfectly fine."

Jenner concluded by saying she could "name 100 things more important right now than fixating on how much money I have".

Has the situation moved on since then?

Jenner, the youngest daughter of Kris Jenner and sister to Kourtney, Khloe and Kim Kardashian, as well as model Kendall Jenner, has since released a statement via her lawyer.

"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," lawyer Michael Kump told Reuters.

Forbes spokesman Matthew Hutchison, however, responded with a statement that the magazine's article 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. We encourage her attorney to re-read the article."

Updated: May 30, 2020 04:15 PM

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