Three-month freeze on personal appearances and social media cost the celebrity socialite and her manager mother more money than the insurance check from the Paris hotel room intrusion was worth. It’s no wonder she’s gotten back to work either way.
One of the unavoidable truths of growing up Kardashian is that the line between public perception and the economic realities of the family fortune is practically nonexistent.
That’s why it’s easy for so many people to assume that Kim staged her Paris hotel robbery back in October: drama builds ratings and primetime ratings on the family show desperately needed a boost.
Others wonder whether Kim simply set the whole thing up to cash in the insurance policy on her jewelry or, in a slightly kinder scenario, simply beckoned criminals with her incessant Tweeting about where she was staying and how big her diamonds were.
But the experience evidently scared her enough to force her off social media and away from paid public appearances for three months. Given the family’s business model, that’s an unsustainable option.
Money and publicity are the same commodity for the Kardashians. And that inverts the priorities of most ultra-high-net-worth families.
No incentive to fake a robbery
Insurance paperwork claims that the jewelry that Kim lost in Paris was worth $5.6 million, according to the family’s advisors.
As such, recouping that lost property ultimately only puts $5.6 million back in Kardashian accounts even if the appraisal was on the generous side.
Meanwhile, taking three months away from the spotlight probably cost Kim around $2 million a month in lost product placement and appearance fees.
Her social accounts went quiet, leaving tens of millions of followers in the dark and north of $30,000 per paid Twitter blurb on the table.
She cancelled high-profile nightclub appearances paying $250,000 a night. A highly anticipated Dubai makeup tutorial would have kicked back a healthy portion of the nearly $1,700 cover charge.
Running the numbers, I suspect the foregone revenue added up to more than the insurance money a few weeks ago.
Coincidentally enough, that’s exactly when Kim started Tweeting again and rescheduled the Dubai makeover.
Kim is by far the highest-earning Kardashian. Since mom Kris Jenner takes a 10% personal cut for managing the girls, the “retirement” is already digging into her cash flow as well as Kim’s.
In that light, the insurance check delayed the moment when Kim had to get back to work, but the clock was still ticking.
The mere fact that Kim took even a single day’s break reveals that she was sincerely distraught enough after the robbery to go up against mom’s profit motive.
Without real emotional turmoil to overcome, there wouldn’t have been any reason to take the time off. Kardashians don’t take unpaid vacations.
As such, the fake hold-up scenario -- for the headlines, sympathy or insurance -- just doesn’t hold up.
Security concerns need to take over
What we’re left with is a young lady who makes her money staying in the public eye without much of a filter or a safety net.
She makes money leaving a rich data trail of her movements, tantalizing would-be attackers with a constant feed of luxury brands and glamour.
It’s a family security officer’s worst nightmare. It made it a whole lot harder for the Kardashian bodyguard to protect her in Paris.
But cut off the update feed and the money dries up. Kardashians stay rich by staying famous.
When everyone feels confident and safe, the system works. Kim’s confidence has evidently been rattled, so it’s broken down.
If she can get back on schedule and live in public again, the cash flow starts again. That’s where a family office with its eye on the ball comes in.
All the Kardashians need cutting-edge security whenever they appear in public.
Even the least visible family members earn as much as the typical S&P 500 CEO. That money can buy a whole lot of protection: Amazon pays $1.6 million to keep Jeff Bezos safe at home and on the road, and presumably the company could go on if anything happens to him.
Once again, for the Kardashians, the personal brand is the commodity. Protecting it should be the most important thing for their advisors.
If the family advisors report to Kris, I’d hope personal safety would be even higher on her list of priorities. After all, these are her kids as well as the dynastic meal ticket.
It’s possible to maintain the illusion of complete access and approachability. Kim’s social media posts can be delayed to put potential assailants on a dead-end trail.
All the kids can still share their glamorous adventures with their millions of fans. But by the time felons crash the party, the kids will be gone.
And in the meantime, of course, every member of the family needs professional backup in the field. That may mean bodyguards, professional drivers, whatever it takes, but if the kids split up, nobody should be left alone.
Leaving Kim alone in the hotel put her in significant danger of kidnapping or worse. Kris is lucky to get her top-earning “client” back at all -- a three-month earning interruption is a lot better than a permanent stop.
On those terms, the business end of the family business dodged a big bullet in Paris. And on the family side, the consequences could have gotten a lot worse.
No mother wants to put her daughter in danger, rich or poor. Hopefully the family used the last few months to tighten security and ensure that this never happens again.