Did Bethenny Frankel lie to Forbes about making $120 mill from SkinnyGirl? (Update)

In June, reality star Bethenny Frankel earned the cover of Forbes Magazine with the title “The New Celebrity Money Makers.” Having sold her SkinnyGirl cocktail business for a reported $120 million, she was ranked higher in earnings than Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. Only that number was grossly inflated and financials for the company show that it was purchased for $8.1 million, which Frankel had to split with her partner. That’s still a great deal of money but it doesn’t quite make her outpace the A-listers and Frankel knows it. Forbes is said to be understandably upset that Frankel posed for their cover and allowed herself to be ranked along with celebrities in that issue. She never once bothered to tell them that she made $4 million, and that she didn’t rake in over ten times that amount. What’s more is that Frankel had this whole story about how she was lost at sea a while ago, while conveniently filming her reality show. The guy that she called to “save” her gave an interview that made it clear that at no point was Bethenny or anyone on her boat in trouble or even lost. Here’s the story, from Huffpo’s Rob Schuter. There’s more on the specific financials in this story.

Bethenny Frankel has been caught distorting the truth for a second time in one week. After she told Ellen DeGeneres that she had been “lost at sea” for 21 hours, it was discovered that she’d failed to mention she had her reality TV camera crews with her, and the captain who “rescued” them has admitted the group was in no danger. Now, it turns out that Bethenny’s “all natural” Skinnygirl cocktail mix, reportedly sold for $120 million, was actually sold for $8.1 million.

When news of the former “Real Housewives of New York” star’s Skinnygirl sale broke, Forbes magazine reported that she was one of the highest-earning women in entertainment, topping Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Angelina Jolie. But now the magazine has issued a tough statement about the lady who graced its cover.

“We’re taking this very seriously. We based our numbers at the time of reporting on solid sources. We’re aware of the new information [uncovered by HuffPost Celebrity] and we’re looking into it right now,” Dan Bigman, Forbes executive editor, tells me. “We’re going to review all the information thoroughly and talk to Ms. Frankel before taking any steps. If there are any inaccuracies, we’ll correct them. If clarification is required, we’ll do so.”

Bethenny has removed from her website the Forbes cover that declared her “the it girl of reality TV [who] sold her line of Skinnygirl drinks for $100 million.” And even though the tricky star never confirmed the amount, you would think that during her interview or three-hour photo shoot, she might have whispered, “Hey, guys, you didn’t hear this from me, but I only got $8.1 mil, which I split with my partner.” Wishful thinking.

[From Huffington Post]

Oops, just an innocent mistake, right? Is Frankel about to get her ass handed to her? I bet she’s going to blame everyone else for this, claiming she never put out the $120 million number, even though her camp is surely to blame for leaking it. The article in Forbes about her wealth was published on their website in May, so she’s had plenty of time to correct those wildly inaccurate numbers about the value of her business. Frankel has denied that she lied about being lost at sea. She also sort-of refuted this report about her inflated earnings. She retweeted another person’s tweet that “The reporter @HuffingtonPost doesn’t get accounting or know how to read financials,” adding “Precisely. Irresponsible journalism.” Then she later tweeted “The price of success.The serious issue is supposedly credible outlets hiring freelance writers with false info to get attention.” Later she bragged that “Yay! @skinnygirlcktls is #1 fastest growing spirits brand in the country bc of YOU! On track to do over 1 million cases this year! Thank you.

If she made 1/2 of $120 million, why doesn’t she just say so outright? Instead she’s going after Shuter for pointing it out. According to Schuter, the quarterly report the purchasing company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission states that SkinnyGirl was purchased for $8.1 million and that “In future periods, the Company may be required to record contingent consideration in an amount not in excess of approximately $25 million.” So that’s $4 million for Frankel and potentially 1/2 of $25 million? That’s awesome, but it’s not $120 million and she knows it.

Update: Thanks to all the accountants and lawyers who commented and said that you cannot tell the quarterly report how much the company was purchased for. Many of you agree that it’s hard to tell and that a figure of around $30 million seems to be more accurate. Still, that’s not $120 million is it? The Huffington Post has issued a correction and E! Online has a more thorough explanation of the numbers here.




Photo credit: WENN.com

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65 Responses to “Did Bethenny Frankel lie to Forbes about making $120 mill from SkinnyGirl? (Update)”

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  1. mln76 says:

    That’s disappointing I thought she was a bit better than the other Housewives but she’s just as trashy as the rest of them. I think her 15 minutes are officially over.

  2. Rita says:

    An innocent mistake (or should I say Linnocent). Probably didn’t even see the cover of Forbes much less buy 200 copies of the magazine *snicks*.

  3. bimperl says:

    She looks like a jack-o-lantern.

  4. Belle Epoch says:

    Plus she lied about her “all natural” margarita being “all natural” and is getting sued for that.

    She says she “built her brand on trust” HAHAHAHAHA


  5. Dawn says:

    Not surprising. This is most likely just one of many lies. She is such a narcissist I’m sure it never occurred to her that she would ever get caught and now that she is I’m sure she will simply shrug it off and attack someone or something else to take the attention off of her skinny ass.

  6. beyzone says:

    The way the numbers play out is interesting – the 8 mill is the amount of ‘goodwill’ the company thought was involved, not necessarily the amount they paid for the business. She also got a sweet backend deal that might be worth the higher figure. 8 million isn’t anywhere near the final figure, either way.

  7. brin says:

    She’s lost all credibility.

  8. Jayna says:

    Ultimately I’m disappointed in Bethenny. Shame on her if true. The final number will still be impressive. No need to be a phony and play Forbes for the fool. And I sure don’t hear any quick denials by her.

  9. Lantana says:

    Besides that, is she clueless? She’s trying to market herself/product (is there a difference) to the public. I would guess that the vast majority of the public makes no huge distinction between 8 million and 120 million.

  10. Blue says:

    I really wish these people would hold themselves accountable and accept responsibility. Ya it’s the journalist who doesn’t know how to read financials, not her the liar. I’m sure the journalist could see if 120 million was anywhere on the financials. Also shame on Forbes for not thoroughly verifying everything before they went to print.

  11. Celebitchy says:

    beyzone – the PDF of that quarterly report states “the acquisition of the Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktail business ($8.1 million).”

    Later, it says “In March 2011, we acquired the Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktail business. The acquisition included inventory and identifiable intangible assets. In addition to goodwill, we recorded contingent consideration which is based on the achievement of certain sales targets. In future periods, the Company may be required to record contingent consideration in an amount not in excess of approximately $25 million. Any change in the Company’s estimated liabilities for contingent consideration will impact operating income in future periods. The acquisition was not material for purposes of supplemental disclosure (per ASC 805).

    So it’s just as Shuter reports, $8.1 million purchase and maybe $25 million but it’s based on performance and cannot exceed that amount.

  12. beyzone says:

    Page 39 of that report states the real figure paid out to be closer to 32 million, plus another 25 million if sales reach a certain level.

    She doesn’t outright own the company, so she seems to get half that, plus however much if sales are higher than projected.

    This is more of a ‘Jessica Simpson is a billion dollar industry’ lie aimed at people who don’t understand business much.

  13. Jo says:

    Lantana, I am one member of the public who feels there is a huge distinction between 8m and 120m. I don’t think I am alone.

  14. Celebitchy says:

    @Beyzone, page 39 vaguely implies that the cost of Skinnygirl could be $32 million, but that’s not a logical conclusion. That’s the number left over when you do the math here: “This $150.0 million change was primarily due to the acquisition of the Skinnygirl cocktail business, the absence of the 2010 disposition of the Cobra golf product line ($88.9 million) and higher capital spending ($29.1 million).

    However, it very clearly states earlier on that it was an $8.1 million acquisition. In the part you’re using for $32 million, that I quote above, They state that $150 million change was “primarily” due to those three factors, they don’t say they definitely add up to $150 million.

  15. beyzone says:

    *shrug* other corporate lawyers disagree with how the media are reading this document.


  16. MJ says:

    I would not want to drink anythink this lady’s pushing. I would never want to be that much of a Skinny Girl. She should switch to full-fat pina coladas for a while, for the sake of her face.

  17. tracking says:

    Wow, what a huckster. Color me not surprised.

  18. gee says:

    I wonder if she’s going to come up with an explaination for this? I’m really surprised and kind of disapointed.

  19. Chris says:

    No surprise about the lies…or “untruths”. Shady woman…all about money and fame….oh wait, she has a family and a husband there are ten times as important??? Shhh, don’t tell her that. At least Krazy Kelly was fun to laugh at, this wench is just plain ugly. She and Jill are too much alike.

  20. Susan says:

    Although I think that Bethenny was probably shady about how much money she made (it was always reported that she made $120 million even though it was at best 50% of that), I do have to agree that the author of the original article is misreading the financial statements from the parent company. No where does the financial report say that the purchase price of Skinnygirl was $8.1 million. Instead what it *does* say is that $8.1 million of the “gross carrying value increase [of goodwill]” during the period reported was attributable to Skinnygirl. That is in no way purchase price. When you buy a company, the actual purchase price gets allocated among a variety of items IN ADDITION TO goodwill (hard assets such as inventory as an example), so it is literally impossible to determine the actual purchase price of Skinnygirl from this disclosure. The only clear fact that can be gleaned is that there is an earn-out (contingent consideration) of up to $25 million payable (in addition to what was paid at closing).

    Sorry to be a killjoy, just a mergers and acquisitions lawyer here. She is right, the journalist is irresponsible in that he doesn’t know how to read financial reports.

  21. Chickie Baby says:

    Yuck. Can’t stand her. At all. She needs to go away.

  22. hootie hoo says:

    Either way, she is still stinking rich.

  23. DogBoy says:

    WAIT! One of these fame whores lied to get a story written about them or a magazine cover? SAY IT ISN’T SO!

  24. lucy2 says:

    Regardless of what the number is, it isn’t the $120 million that Forbes reported. Which makes me question, if HuffPo got ahold of the financials, FORBES couldn’t??? They’re a financial magazine!
    She might not ever see the rest of that money, if the product is being yanked and company sued. And she absolutely should have corrected them, but then it probably would have cost her the magazine cover. Now she just looks like a fool.

  25. gee says:

    @Susan! That was helpful.
    @Lucy2, That is such a good point. Why the hell didn’t they do the fact checking?

  26. Amanda says:

    She did tweet that she did in fact get lost at sea, I don;t know if she tweeted about the 120 million but she said something along the lines of you can’t believe rumors… So I don’t know what to think?

  27. jc126 says:

    Sleazeball. Like all reality show people, or 99% of them, at least.
    Forbes is notorious for over-estimating celeb’s wealth, I’ve heard.

  28. shiba says:

    Worth is inflated in business all the time – Donald Trump, anyone? Bethenny is a cagey businesswoman. Why would she correct an over-estimation of how much money she makes – by a business mag, no less.

  29. DG says:

    Hasn’t it already been discovered that Rob at Huff Post is a Team Jill member? Regardless if you like B or how her face looks, it seems like everyone is jumping to believe $8.1 million just as quick as they wanted to believe $120 million. Not one person on here is qualified to make that call what so ever.

    Stop hating…she never confirmed nor denied the amount, and as a person trying to build a brand, it was a GREAT PR move not to…keep your name out there by having people discussing it. FREE ADVERTISING!!!!

    You may not like her, her products, or her relationship (not that you have to) but you have to admit she is a pretty damn good business woman.

  30. Ashley says:

    Susan summed it up excellently. I’m an accountant, and no, the journalist doesn’t know a damn lick about financial statements.

  31. anne_000 says:

    According to the tow capt’s interview w/ Jewish Journal, Bethenny made a false claim on Ellen Degeneres that they gave the guy a huge tip & that he’s complaining about the amount of the tip. He says that’s not true cuz he & the tow boat owner never even got a tip & that he doesn’t work for tips anyways.

    He also says that Bethenny’s boat was in working condition, including a working GPS; another private tow co. refused to come out because it was not an emergency situation; since the boat & gps were in working condition, all that happened was that Bethenny’s boat just followed the tow boat back to shore; that before Bethenny kissed the dock, the camera crew got out & into position in order to make sure they get a good shot.

    He also said that the ‘captain’ of Bethenny’s boat, her therapist, told him Bethenny was a TV star and had just sold her company for $120 million. The therapist was annoyed that Tim did not know.

    There’s that $120million figure allegedly being mentioned by her therapist…

  32. That girl says:

    Counting other people’s money? Who cares.

  33. Riana says:

    So the woman who volunteered to have her trashy life filmed for months did something trashy and embarrassing by lying (twice)?

    I’m shocked.

    There’s a certain level of sleazeball naturally attached to the woman as a result of her attention seeking ways, when she needed to she put honesty and integity aside to get more attention.

    It always comes around anyway, soon we’ll be hearing she’s broke.

  34. Victoria says:

    I think this article should be amended and less accusatory only because I read over the report and I only have three years of business education, but this situation seems fairly simple. And Susan and the people Gawker are in the right. I also double checked with one of my old professors and he said you could not say for certain exactly how much the company was sold for but that with what he did knwo an umber of around 30 million seems right. At least as a base point.

    That’s what I got out of it. But I am no expert so I didn’t want to comment initially.

  35. K.at says:

    She just destroyed herself and her business. What a flipping idiot ( and I used to like her).

  36. fuefinawg says:

    … she is not attractive, is she?

  37. benny says:

    Considering how shady she is with her finances, I hope the IRS does a really thorough audit of her actual income.

    I never understood why these reality “stars” are so popular — most seem like gold-digging, narcissistic, shallow losers.

  38. ManicPixieDreamGirl says:

    She’s a hustler, so I’m not really all that surprised. She’s worth a fortune, yet she looks so miserable.

    “I think she’s the saddest girl ever to hold a martini.”

  39. Truthful says:

    Whole foods has removed it from the shleves also because she LIED ITS NOT ALL NATURAL EITHER.

  40. Solaera says:

    Because I’m a sucker for cute packaging I bought a bottle of SGC, not knowing anything about the brand or Bethany Frankel. It was the grossest alcoholic beverage that I have ever tried to drink, and that’s saying something because I’ll drink just about anything. I ended up pouring it down the sink(!!!).

  41. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Truthful: absolutely right! It contains sodium benzoate, a known carcinogen. On what planet is that “all natural” and NOT a “preservative”?

    Other foods contain sodium benzoate too — but the difference is, she LIED about it, and unsuspecting people bought her product based on those lies.

  42. henderswife says:

    Why is her face wrinkled like that? Sun damage? Age?

  43. Sasha says:

    @Lantana — bwahahahaha! You must take the VAST MAJORITY of the public as fools who admire reality tv famewh*res, then, because trust: EVERYBODY who can count knows the difference between $8 million and $120 million — that’s $112 million to you.

  44. Sloane Wyatt says:

    Bethany Frankel looks like a flesh covered skeleton who thoroughly enjoys being a huckster.

    Was she an ‘Irish Traveler’ at any point in her life? What a grifter.

  45. Dana M says:

    Correction posted on the Huf article that reads:

    CORRECTION: Our reporter misread the $8.1 million figure in the financial documents. As Forbes points out, the number refers to the amount of Skinnygirl attributed to goodwill, not the total purchase price. We regret the error.

  46. LittleDeadGrrl says:

    Sad that she’d lie so outright about the money she has made and not think she’d get caught. It ruins my image of her totally.

  47. thinkaboutit says:

    Who cares, really? Love her or leave her, but did anyone ever really believe that she walked away with $120mm?

    Forbes covered her story because she built a brand that is now a household name based solely on manufactured celebrity, which is NEWS because it’s a phenomenon unique to the time and place in which we live right now. $120mm or $8mm, it’s still a remarkable story.

  48. Kim says:

    Cant stand this one. Never could. Obvious from the get go she was lying about her childhood, playing the victim role of i had a bad childhood and had no money and made it all on my own. She doesnt come from poverty and many people helped her get to where she is and she stepped on and has forgotten them all. Everyone in the elite circle of NY knows she is a pill popping, bulemic, attention whore.

  49. Kim says:

    Betthany certainly didnt correct Forbes did she?! She still posed on the cover KNOWING the amount was a lie. She even had it posted on her website so she ran with the lie. Typical of her.

    Anyone w 2 brain cells knew there was no way she got even close to that.

  50. lisa says:

    She was wrong in not correcting the mistake.

    but let’s talk FORBES and these list they put out. What this puts a spotlight on is how FORBES is full of CRAP. they obviously don’t do any research or whatever. So do they ask these people how much money they make and publish that as facts. When a celebrity doesn’t talk to them are they just pulling figures out of their asses.. I mean we see people on those Forbes list that I will say should not be there. And I know that some celebrities make way more than the Forbes list quotes.

    Bethany not telling the truth just show how people should not believe those Forbes list at all. That may be what makes them most upset.

    the Gig is up.. and Forbes to me is the one that comes out bad.

  51. Wowie says:

    So true! lol I work for the company that distributes her Skinnygurl workouts and I can log into the system to view the profits. Actually someone just returned 300 dvds lol

  52. JaneWonderfalls says:

    She is just ugly! I’m sorry I usually never call women ugly but gosh, and she claims to just be in her 30’s please!

  53. Trashaddict says:

    I’m wish lucy2 and Lisa. Forbes should be massively embarrassed for their sloppy reporting. Lack of basic fact-checking skills? Pathetic. As is the fact that they could get suckered by a fame-whore like this. If the news media in this country doesn’t wise up we will all get snookered into worse and worse leadership. Vigilance is the price of freedom, and journalists are supposed to be our lookouts.

  54. LondonLady says:

    CB I think you need to update the headline given HufPo’s retraction. Not only that but it seems very unfair to say that BF lied to Forbes when it was they who didn’t do their homework. In any case thats an awful lot of small change for a reality tv star (Kardashians and Hiltons excluded)

  55. Cheryl says:

    Sounds like her Mom is right on. Labeled her a “Liar” gave her credit cards and money and let her shop away and she turned on her Mom. “I have no place for her in my life” How sad and pathetic.Mom says she tried but Bethanny was always narcisstic and uses ppl to her advantage/ Mom has held down her same job for many years so she can’t be too erratic. Just disgusting to dump your Mom.

  56. JingoJango says:

    Why is this chick’s face so busted looking?

  57. marym says:

    Who buys this crap anyways? Building a brand is based on trust, oh well I guess that’s gone. Bethany, you have been called out for the liar that your are HAHHAHA

  58. Red Rooster says:

    All she did was pull a Donald Trump: (1) allow the illusion of having made a lot of money by not clarifying the incorrect number being bandied about; (2) know that the incorrect number will be repeated and printed as if it were fact and will not be checked for some time if at all; and (3) reap the benefits received from this false notoriety because Americans worship people with money.

  59. Ice Bunny says:

    Much more of an “Update” is required than what is provided above. There are lots of hidden agendas in those who attack Bethenny.

    And there are more than enough lies to go around… starting with the idiot Huffpo blogger who “misread” the numbers in the first place.

    As for the boating incident.. Bravo came out to support Bethenny’s version of the story.. and they were ON the boat. Seems the “rescue dude” has an ax to grind for whatever reason??


    “Huffington Post has since issued a correction on their website: “Our reporter misread the $8.1 million figure in the financial documents. As Forbes points out, the number refers to the amount of Skinnygirl attributed to goodwill, not the total purchase price. We regret the error.”

    I wonder if Bethenny is wondering about now if money and fame is all it’s cracked up to be…

  60. anna says:

    that shit is undrinkable !

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  62. Xtrology says:

    No matter how little or much she got, you do not want to be her. I predict her future is grim. And, yes, it has to do with karma — what goes around comes around.

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