Former Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel's credibility is being questioned for the second time inside of a week, after information has surfaced indicating Frankel's multimillion dollar empire might not be quite so multi after all.
Numerous media outlets have supported an assumption that Frankel sold her Skinnygirl cocktail business for $120 million earlier this year, but a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission quarterly released by the company who bought Skinnygirl says otherwise.
...the acquisition of the Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktail business ($8.1 million).
That's a pretty big difference. To be fair, Frankel does not seem to have ever said herself how much she on the deal, but even Forbes estimated the deal at $100 million.
So where are the inflated numbers coming from?
For starters, it's possible that the purchase price may only have been a part of the deal. Based on what Pryce Greenow, Beam Global's regional GM of western U.S. business, told the Hollywood Reporter in April, the financials may have been nuanced beyond the purchase price:
This isn't a typical acquisition, Greenow said. It's more of a venture capital investment for us: high growth, early investment. Because of a strict confidentiality clause, details of the contract are under wraps, but a source close to the transaction says Frankel is being well incentivized to keep promoting the product and making it a continued success (through benchmark and bonus arrangements).
But as the Huffington Post pointed out, there appears to be a cap on these incentives, as explained in the quarterly:
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.
Okay -- so $120 million does not look to be an accurate sale price, no matter how you slice it. But where did that figure come from, if not Bethenny?
Perhaps here, in another excerpt from the quarterly that addresses a change in Beam Global's investing cash output:
Net cash used in investing activities for the six months ended June 30, 2011 was $120.2 million [our emphasis], compared with cash provided by investing activities of $29.8 million in the same six-month period last year. 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).
As the Daily Mail pointed out, today's Huffington Post report was not the first to question the size of Frankel's bank account: Former The Real Housewives of New York City castmate (and lukewarm ally) Ramona Singer warned back in May that we should take claims to Skinnygirl riches with a grain of rim salt. Singer told Rob Shuter (who contributes to HuffPo) that she estimated the figure to be closer to $30 million, after reminding him that Frankel likes to exaggerate.
On Wednesday, Frankel retweeted a post from a Twitter follower that read:
The reporter @HuffingtonPost clearly doesn't get accounting or know how to read financials. Bethenny added her own two cents in the retweet: Precisely. Irresponsible journalism.
Frankel followed up shortly afterwards with another tweet: The price of success .The serious issue is supposedly credible outlets hiring freelance writers with false info to get attention.
Anyway...speaking of false info and getting attention, Frankel was recently accused of making up a story that she, her husband, her therapist and a camera crew camera crew were lost at sea for 20 hours when their sailboat was thrown off course by a giant wave in the Atlantic Ocean between Nantucket and Block Island.
Frankel's story has come under scrutiny after the Jewish Journal's Ilana Angel (who, to be fair, appears to have something of a vendetta against Frankel) uncovered some holes in the story after speaking to the man who is credited with rescuing the crew.
Here's Bethenny's version of the story:
The captain had to call the Coast Guard and we were hit by a big wave, Frankel told E! Online. It was very scary. It was traumatic... We were in the middle of the deep sea with no land or anybody near us. Frankel reportedly said that the GPS system was malfunctioning.
The boat finally made it back to shore at 4 a.m. the day after Frankel & Co. set sail, in time to wake up her daughter, Bryn, who was not on the deep sea adventure.
I was thinking, Oh, my God, Bryn! I'm not going to be there at six o'clock in the morning when she wakes up and she's going to wonder where Mommy is and gosh, if something were to happen to me, what would happen to her, Frankel continued. I was having horrendous thoughts.
Angel spoke to Tim Russell, the man credited with saving Frankel & Co. by towing them back in. Russell told the Jewish Journal that Frankel's therapist gave him the exact coordinates of the sailboat - which indicates the GPS was not malfunctioning at all. (Aside: who goes sailing with her therapist?) He also said that he was called after the U.S. Coast Guard determined that the boat was not it any distress, and that the sailors had called for a tow at the Coast Guard's suggestion.
The article continues:
Mr. Russell explained that his rate was $250 an hour, which is his standard, offseason, nighttime rate and since it was still dark, the nighttime rate applied. When he realized the boat was fine, he explained they did not need him and could come in on their own as the boat was fully functioning.
The therapist insisted they needed help, and said they would pay him what he wanted. Mr. Russell thought it was bizarre, and did not know what was going on, but did not want to ignore the call in case there was an issue so he went out to get them. His wife went along and they headed out.
When Tim got there, he saw that the boat was fine. There were 9 people on the boat. Bethenny, Jason, the therapist, and a Bravo film crew of 6. They did not need a tow as the boat was fine. They simply followed Tim and his wife back to the shore with no towing and a functioning GPS.
Russell also denied that Frankel gave him a $2,800 tip for his services, as Bethenny supposedly claimed she did on The Ellen Degeneres Show (though IBTimes was not able to locate any documentation of this comment). Incidentally, Ellen does not seem like she was buying what Bethanny was selling in the interview - watch it here:
Frankel has since reliably taken to Twitter to dismiss the allegations that she fabricated the Lost at Sea story:
Let's review last week's idiocies, she tweeted. 1)I have anicecoach 2)I'm getting divorced 3)I'm pregnant 4)I lied re:being lost at sea Anything else?
Frankel posted two earlier tweets that may have also been in reference to the allegations: I will ALWAYS be honest with my fans. I know you know that! and People are nuts and bored.
On Thursday, Bravo chimed in with a statement defending the legitimacy of the seafaring saga, which E! News published:
It is accurate that Bethenny, Jason [Hoppy] and their therapist were stranded at sea when the navigation on their boat broke during a taping for the new season of 'Bethenny Ever After'...The Coast Guard referred a private tow vessel who eventually led their boat out. When people see the episode, they will certainly see for themselves that this was very real.
Bravo did not specify exactly when we can see for ourselves, but Bethenny Ever After had been expected to premiere in Dec. 2011.