After crowning the 22-year-old the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2019, Forbes retracts Kylie Jenner's title — a title which Jenner said she "never asked for" in response to the story

By Kaitlyn Frey
May 29, 2020 03:07 PM
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At only 21 years old, Kylie Jenner made history when Forbes officially named the Kylie Cosmetics mogul the world's youngest self-made billionaire. Her billionaire status was solidified even further when she sold a majority stake in her cosmetics and skincare business to beauty conglomerate Coty for $600 million a year later, which valued the company at nearly $1.2 billion. But after the deal was signed and Coty released the financials of Kylie Cosmetics, Forbes is now alleging that Jenner's business wasn't as profitable — and her wealth isn't as high — as the publication previously reported.

In a new explosive report titled "Inside Kylie Jenner's Web of Lies — And Why She's No Longer a Billionaire," Forbes suggests that Jenner and her team could have been inflating the success of their beauty business over the years - and Jenner has already turned to Twitter to express her concerns - and deny the accusations.

"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," she began her Twitter response. "...even creating tax returns that were likely forged” that’s your proof? so you just THOUGHT they were forged? like actually what am i reading."

Jenner concluded her Twitter clap back by saying she's going to focus on the all the positive things in her life: "Okay i am blessed beyond my years, i have a beautiful daughter, and a successful business and i’m doing perfectly fine. i can name a list of 100 things more important right now than fixating on how much money i have."

In an official statement exclusively obtained by PEOPLE, Jenner's attorney Michael Kump says after reviewing Forbes' article accusing the star of "engaging in deceit and a 'web of lies' to inflate her net worth," he can confirm it 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. 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," Kump says in the statement shared with PEOPLE. "We would not expect that from a supermarket tabloid, much less from Forbes."

In the piece published on Friday, Forbes claims that after Jenner's sister Kim Kardashian West landed her own Forbes cover in July 2016, the Kardashian-Jenner publicists made it their mission to get the lip kit mogul her own. The magazine reports that the team opened up their record books to prove to the publication that Kylie Cosmetics brought in $400 million within its first 18 months of business, and Jenner herself pocketed $250 million. While Forbes saw the tax returns which proved "$307 million in 2016 revenues and personal income of more than $110 million for Kylie that year," the magazine ultimately decided to rank Jenner's total earnings as $41 million on the 2017 Celebrity 100 List.

"The documents, despite looking authentic and bearing Kylie Jenner’s signature, weren’t exactly convincing since the story they told, of e-commerce brand Kylie Cosmetics growing from nothing to $300 million in sales in a single year, was hard to believe," Forbes says.

Forbes/Jamel Toppin

However, two months later Women's Wear Daily published the same numbers outlining the success of Kylie Cosmetics that Jenner's team originally pitched to Forbes. Then Kris Jenner confirmed to CNBC that her daughter's company generated $420 million in revenue in just its first 18 months of operation.

The growth of Kylie Cosmetics and the launch of Kylie Skin catapulted Jenner's wealth into the billion dollar range, and by August 2018 Forbes estimated that at 20 years old, the star, who covered its America's Women's Billionaires issue, was worth approximately $900 million.

Once Jenner sold a 51% stake in her beauty business to publicly-traded company Coty in November 2019, Forbes alleges that "any doubts that Kylie wasn't a billionaire were seemingly erased."

The revenues from Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin brought in over the 12-month period preceding the deal led Forbes to believe that Jenner's team had been misrepresenting her company's success over the years.

Forbes reports that according to a Coty presentation, Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin brought in $177 million in the year leading up to their deal. "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 wrote. "Kylie’s skincare line, which launched in May 2019, did $100 million in revenues in its first month and a half, Kylie’s reps told us. The filings show the line was actually 'on track' to finish the year with just $25 million in sales."

Coty declined PEOPLE's request for comment.

RELATED VIDEO: Kris Jenner Discusses Daughter Kylie Selling Majority Stake of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 Million

Ultimately, after taking a close look at the latest numbers, Forbes concludes that Jenner's cosmetics business was "never that big to begin with" and that the family has "lied about it every year since 2016." The outlet even suggests that Jenner's accountant may have forged 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," the magazine said in its report.

Additionally, Forbes speculates that Jenner's mom Kris also owns a small percentage of the business which would also lower the 22-year-old's personal fortune. The outlet reports that Coty’s purchase agreement lists a “KMJ 2018 Irrevocable Trust,” controlled by Kristen M. Jenner, as owning a profit interest in Kylie Cosmetics and says that upon the sale the trust would get ownership in the company.

Kris Jenner/Instagram

While the Kardashian-Jenner team reportedly has said that the trust holds cash that Jenner earned before turning 18, Forbes opines that the trust "appears to have been created well after Kylie turned 18." Forbes concludes: "We’re erring on the side of caution and assuming that the trust belongs to Kris Jenner. That means Kylie Jenner owns an estimated 44.1% of Kylie Cosmetics, rather than 49%."

Based on the conclusions set out in its article, Forbes estimates Jenner's current net worth at just under $900 million.