Kylie Jenner isn't a billionaire? Forbes claims Kardashian-Jenner family provided misleading information

  • Posted on: 31 May 2020
  • By: Presenters

Kylie Jenner's status as a billionaire has been called into question by Forbes in a story that also raises questions about the magazine’s ability to accurately assess the finances of celebrities.

Forbes, known for its billionaire rankings, said it no longer considers the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner family to be a billionaire, a status it first conferred in March 2019.

The magazine on Friday published the results of an investigation into Jenner's finances, saying she and her family provided misleading information about her wealth. It now estimates her net worth at just under $900 million.

In its investigation Friday, Forbes says the Kardashians and Jenners have spent years fighting for higher spots on its annual wealth and celebrity earnings lists.

Jenner's brother-in-law and rapper Kanye West was included on the Forbes list in April.

USA TODAY reached out to Jenner's reps for comment on the report. Jenner took to Twitter, tweeting Friday that the Forbes article had "a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions" and she "never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. period."

Forbes called the sale one of "the greatest celebrity cashouts of all time" and said "the transaction seemed to confirm what Kylie had been saying all along" and what it declared in the March 2019 story. Coty officials declined to comment.

Jenner pocketed an estimated $340 million, after tax, from the sale, Forbes reported, but said based on filings and the impact of COVID-19 on beauty stocks and consumer spending that Jenner is no longer believed to be a billionaire.

Forbes also said in its story that the family created "tax returns that were likely forged," which Jenner’s attorney Michael Kump said in a statement to People Magazine was "unequivocally false."

"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," Kump told People.

To some experts, Forbes' about-face may put the publications' popular rankings into question. 

James Warren, executive editor of NewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news and information sites, told USA TODAY the news speaks to the importance of verifying information.

"The Kardashian claim was and remains the sort that's easy to make, yet hard to verify,” said Warren, a former Chicago Tribune managing editor. “But it requires verification because some people use 'billionaire' as a credential of grand distinction, a sort of Harvard degree, even if one measured in money rather than academic achievement.”

Rita McGrath, who is professor of management at Columbia Business School, said the story puts Forbes in a "tough spot."

“I do think a magazine like Forbes has a certain responsibility to present factual data if they are going to claim to be that source,” McGrath said. "I think maybe a higher level of scrutiny might be merited.”

Forbes is not the only publication that ranks billionaires; Bloomberg News has its Billionaires Index, which is a daily ranking of the world's billionaires.

Forbes spokeswoman Christina Vega told USA TODAY that this new investigation shows the publication's commitment to "uncovering new information year after year" and "willingness to set the record straight when we do get new information."