Bethenny Frankel sold SkinnyGirl for a whole lot more than $8.1 million

There’s been a lot of buzz around a report from from HuffPost Celebrity’s Rob Shuter claiming Bethenny Frankel sold her super popular SkinnyGirl cocktail brand for a mere $8.1 million instead of the rumored $100-120 million everyone gasped about earlier this year. (Forbes Magazine ran with the number, and even listed Frankel as the third biggest female earner this year behind Oprah and Lady Gaga.)

Shuter had some documents on his side, but it turns out, they were not interpreted correctly (he has since noted the error, and apologized for it.) Even with official financial documents, transparency isn’t a core value for most corporations, and most people (who haven’t been financially trained) can’t just pick up a report and know exactly what’s going on there.

Forbes blogger Meghan Casserly looked at the Beam Global 10-Q Quarterly Report, and found that the $8.1 million was just for the purchasing the “goodwill” of Bethenny’s cocktail brand (a.k.a. the “intangible assets.”) But there was other information in the document that suggested Bethenny’s former Real Housewives of New York cast mate Ramona Singer was sniffing around the right ball-park when she said Bethenny probably got paid about $30 million for the deal.

Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy found this bit of info:

“On page 5, Beam lists $39 million for acquisitions in the second quarter of 2011. “The only deal they announced over that period was Skinnygirl,” says Hottovy. “This means [Beam] paid at least that much for Skinnygirl [during that period].”

So that brings the total number to about $50 million. But wait, there’s more! Bethenny didn’t just sell the brand and ride off into the sunset to swim with dolphins, raise her daughter quietly in Montana, or pursue an acting career. She stuck around, and kept launching products for Beam, including her SkinnyGirl Sangria, and there are plenty more coming down the pipeline that probably wouldn’t be worth as much if Bethenny didn’t pose with the bottles and talk about them constantly in the media. And she’s not sticking around for free. Bethenny struck a deal where she gets “contingent consideration,” or payments based on how well the booze sells (kind of like royalties.) So, even though she sold the brand, Bethenny continues to get paid based on how well the brand sells. She gets the added bonus of having a big company with huge marketing budgets and the facilities to meet the growing demand. Beam is required to put on the 10-Q contingent consideration payments up to $25 million, and since the SkinnyGirl brand has exceeded its sales goals for 2011, at least that much will be listed on a future 10-Q.

Bethenny herself, who has been coy about the exact number (she’s never uttered the $120 million figure, or hinted that it was true, though she has talked openly about suddenly being wealthy) she received from Beam, told Forbes’ Casserly “Come on. That it could be the fastest growing booze brand on the market and have sold for that little is just preposterous. I’m going to be paying a hell of a lot more than $8.1 million in taxes.

So, did Bethenny Frankel get a $100 million cash payment from Beam in exchange for her SkinnyGirl cocktail brand? It doesn’t look that way. Will she end up making WAY more than $100 million off of the deal? Almost certainly. The Skinnygirl brand is ingenious, and it’s going nowhere but up. Bethenny also has her had in a lot of other lucrative pots. Not bad for a girl who couldn’t pay her rent four years ago.