Paul Kleb­nikov (1963-2004)


Bold jour­nal­ism takes brave jour­nal­ists, and Forbes has pro­duced none braver than Paul Kleb­nikov, who climbed the ranks to be­come found­ing ed­i­tor of Forbes Rus­sia. Kleb­nikov launched the mag­a­zine at a time, like now, when the pow­ers-that-be didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate tough ques­tions. And he asked them, chron­i­cling the loot­ing of the coun­try by crony cap­i­tal­ists, the rise of or­ga­nized crime and the war in Chech­nya.

On July 9, 2004, Kleb­nikov was shot nine times with a semi­au­to­matic pis­tol as he left his Mos­cow of­fice. Just 41, he left be­hind a wife and three chil­dren. While Rus­sian of­fi­cials have never brought his killer to jus­tice, some in­ves­ti­ga­tors have tried to pin the killing on now-de­ceased oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky, whom Kleb­nikov had dubbed the “God­fa­ther of the Krem­lin.” Oth­ers point to Chechen crim­i­nals. A team of in­ves­tiga­tive re­porters, Project Kleb­nikov, con­tin­ues to seek an­swers. And a gen­er­a­tion of Forbes jour­nal­ists, in­spired by his fear­less re­port­ing, con­tinue to ask tough ques­tions.

April 1994: Mid­way through Bill Clin­ton’s first term as pres­i­dent, a cover ex­claimed: “Why Bill Clin­ton Looks Like a One-ter­mer.”

De­cem­ber 1996: In “Gilbert Ame­lio’s Grand Scheme to Save Ap­ple” Forbes pre­dicts that a new OS will save Ap­ple, which would squash Mi­crosoft. Ame­lio is ousted within seven months—by Steve Jobs.

De­cem­ber 1996: In “Is He the God­fa­ther of the Krem­lin?” Forbes re­veals how Rus­sia’s Boris Bere­zovsky, is the real mus­cle be­hind Pres­i­dent Yeltsin. The oli­garch will fac­tor heav­ily in the se­lec­tion of Vladimir Putin.

De­cem­ber 1998: A cover story on “Tax Shel­ter Hustlers” re­veals a myr­iad of in­come tax avoid­ance ma­neu­vers by lead­ing ac­count­ing firms and their cor­po­rate clients and prompts alarm at Trea­sury and in Con­gress.

Jan­uary 1999: “Ama­teur Hour on Wall Street” warns that a grow­ing mob of novices, armed with cheap, fast PCS and e-bro­ker­age ac­counts, is fu­el­ing a dan­ger­ous spec­u­la­tive tech stock bub­ble. Four­teen months later—pop!

APRIL 2008: A cover story, “No Thain, No Gain,” gushes over Mer­rill Lynch and its ill-fated CEO, John Thain. Within a year, Mer­rill Lynch is bailed out by Bank of Amer­ica and Thain is ousted amid scan­dal.

Novem­ber 2008: With the fi­nan­cial cri­sis in full bloom, Steve Forbes’ cover story, “How Cap­i­tal­ism Will Save Us” ex­tols the un­der­ly­ing strengths of the U.S. econ­omy and ac­cu­rately pre­dicts a re­sump­tion of the global boom.

Oc­to­ber 2011: The mag­a­zine calls Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy’s CEO Aubrey Mc­clen­don, “Amer­ica’s Most Reck­less Bil­lion­aire.” Two years later, he’s out as CEO. Within five years, he dies in a car ac­ci­dent one day af­ter be­ing in­dicted for bid-rig­ging.

February 2013: A cover story on Airbnb iden­ti­fies the share-econ­omy as a new dis­rup­tive threat in a myr­iad of in­dus­tries from ho­tels to car rentals to camp­ing.

Septem­ber 2015: In “Money’s New Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem” Forbes pre­dicts that the blockchain will be­come the “dial tone for the 21st-cen­tury global econ­omy.”

June 2016: Forbes ex­poses bil­lion­aire Pe­ter Thiel as the hid­den money be­hind Hulk Ho­gan’s $140 mil­lion li­bel case against Gawker.

De­cem­ber 2016: The mag­a­zine chron­i­cles how bil­lion­aire Kenneth Feld keeps Rin­gling Broth­ers cir­cus alive. Within six months, the 146-year old en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness is shut­tered.

March 2017: A cover pack­age called “In Trump They Trust” ex­poses the vast web of global busi­ness part­ners—from In­done­sia to Panama—cash­ing in on the 45th pres­i­dent.

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