The most recent images on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account
are almost three months old, from her trip to Paris. One ominously includes a
photo of her bodyguard trailing close behind her with the caption “This guy is
always in my shot.” Of course, he was nowhere in sight the night of October 2,
2016, when the reality TV star was held at gunpoint in her hotel room. It was
that terrifying incident that prompted Kim to take an indefinite hiatus from
social media and public engagements.
For the average celebrity -- one who pops into the public eye only to promote a new project -- this wouldn't be a big deal, but Kim Kardashian is not the average celebrity. Her entire empire was built on sharing the details of her personal life at all times. And by stepping out of the spotlight, Kim’s business has taken a hit.
According to Frank Spadafora, CEO of D’Marie, a social media software company that analyzes the portfolios of influencers to determine their “worth” for brand partnerships, Kim has dropped from the seventh most influential to the 57th since October. (Cristiano Ronaldo holds the top spot). Prior to the robbery, D’Marie valued a single post for Kim across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at $300,000; that number has since dropped significantly.
“The way our algorithm works and what most brands rely on is an influencer’s information over the past 30 days. Kim has dropped due to not being on social media,” says Spadafora. “It's definitely not zero, but her value has dropped by about $250,000.” And Kim, of course, wasn't one to post sponsored content sporadically -- a source familiar with Kim's earnings told ET that Kim has missed out on close to $3 million in endorsement revenue in the past two and a half months. Now Spadafora is guiding clients toward more “reliable” influencers like Ariana Grande and Kylie Jenner.
It’s not just about loss of revenue from sponsored content on her social platforms. Kim is also foregoing public appearances, which can come with a significant payday. David Weintraub, CEO of DWE Talent, a management, film and television production company that represents the likes of Scott Disick, Brody Jenner and Ray J, is an expert in negotiating paid appearances for celebrities. He told ET that prior to the robbery Kim could expect to make anywhere from $50,000 to over $500,000 for a club appearance (and significantly higher for appearances overseas). Halloween in particular has always been a big payday for her, but this year she laid low with her two children, North, 3, and Saint, 1.
However, despite the financial hit, Kim’s not exactly strapped for cash. “The appearances and the social media posting are probably only five to seven percent of her entire business,” says Weintraub, who is close to the Kardashian camp. “The bread and butter is the companies that they own that sell products and the television shows.” A rep for Keeping Up With the Kardashians confirmed to ET that she is in fact continuing to film the show, which she executive produces. Plus, she has maintained content on her app thanks to guest contributors.
The question now is: What's next for Kim? Ingrid Elfver, a branding expert and CEO of Born Celebrity, says this is the perfect opportunity for Kim to rebrand her image. “She can change her brand to be more private and change people’s expectations of her. She doesn’t need to release details about every moment of her life. I’m sure her values and priorities have changed, too -- it’s less about showing off what she has and what she’s doing and more about making her personal life more sacred,” says Elfver. “She’s achieved incredible fame, she’s on the same level as Michael Jackson or Beyonce -- by pulling back she can make her brand more alluring.”
In fact, that scarcity could make her stock go up. “Everyone will be bidding on her first public appearance,” says Weintraub. And while he believes her first appearance and social media post could score her well into the hundreds of thousands, he thinks it’s unlikely she’ll return to the public eye with the same vigor she once had. “That level of visibility is done,” he says. “Even though it is only a little bit of work to get that money, it’s not going to be worth the stress. Instead, I think her family and other businesses are going to be more the priority.”
Kim put family first earlier this month when she cancelled a public appearance in New York to be by Kanye West’s side after he was hospitalized for exhaustion. And friends close to Kim say she's become more focused on her family and is not the carefree attention-seeker she once was. “Kim is in no rush to get back into the spotlight,” a source tells ET. “If there is one silver lining in this awful situation, it’s that she has been at home with her kids this entire time.”
When she is ready to return to the spotlight, Elfver says that the best thing for Kim’s brand would be to make her first appearance an interview with someone like Barbara Walters -- not a paid appearance or endorsement.