Inside the Jeffree Star Makeup Heist Worth $2.5 Million

Published on April 3, 2019

It’s often easy to forget that a makeup product that retails for less than $20 can often represent a company worth millions—even billions—of dollars. The beauty industry is expected to reach a record breaking $863 billion by the end of 2024, according to a market research company called Zion Market Research. Because individual products retail for so little, this makes beauty one of the most susceptible industries to theft and fraud. Makeup mogul Jeffree Star is learning first hand what that really means.

The Heist

Jeffree Star first teased that something was awry for his beauty brand on Sunday night, announcing that he wouldn’t be revealing what was wrong until the next day. By Monday, the former musician had announced that nearly $2.5 million worth of product had been stolen from his warehouse in California. “I never knew I would be spending my Monday night tracking down black market makeup sellers,” Star tweeted on Monday.

Allegedly, a group of “professionals” had been tipped off by a temporary worker. Star believes this because the thieves were so familiar with the layout of the facility. The heist happened on March 16 around 1 am, and the group of theives got into the building by cutting a hole through the roof and left with all of the product in a truck.

Star describes the group of thieves as “professionals” in a video released on YouTube this week. The video is currently trending on YouTube. It’s already received over 9 million views since it was released on Tuesday morning. “When you watch footage of this stuff, it’s so gut-wrenching to see people just take your shit and put it in a truck and steal something that I have been working on for so long,” says Star in the video.

Why Makeup?

It may seem silly at first, but the black market makeup industry thrives on an unprecedented level. Urban street markets around the world are littered with fake or stolen makeup products. The problem has become so severe that makeup brand owners have released dozens of statements.

A 2017 video posted by Kylie Jenner shows the makeup mogul trying to buy fake versions of her own products on the streets of LA. “I want to be really, really clear and let you guys know that the only place to get my products is,” said Jenner in a series of Instagram posts recently. The issue with buying fake cosmetics is much more risky than buying fake handbags or shoes. The products are often made with different materials, as cosmetic formulas have become a trade secret among brands.

Counterfeit cosmetics are often made with ingredients that aren’t approved by the FDA. While makeup fans have been able to find things like Jeffree Star’s cosmetics, Kylie Lip Kits, or even the perpetually sold-out James Charles palette for incredibly low prices online, it often comes at a different price. Things like gasoline, glue, or even human fecal matter have been found in counterfeit cosmetics.

What Now For Star?

Jeffree Star is currently sorting out the mess after his warehouse was ransacked. Among the stolen items were things like highlighters and an unreleased concealer in one shade. The beauty mogul is working to track down the lost product as it will eventually hit street markets. Some of those products may even land as close as downtown LA.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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