Chekalin business empire: how to make billions on marathons and secondary cosmetics
To beauty blogger and infobusinessman Valeria Chekalanother was charged with tax evasion for 300 million rubles. And this amount is negligible compared to real estate worth 1.37 billion rubles and income of 3 billion rubles from the cosmetic brand Letique. “Company” figured out how a business empire works Chekalothers and why the main character of this story could be a stylist whom the blogger accused of fraud.
“I am not afraid of the new Instagram* algorithms and the fact that they will stop promoting me. I have my audience, and I know how to keep such high activity, as I have been doing for 5-6 years, ”Forbes said in a last year interview. Chekalina, known under the nickname ler_chek. 10.4 million people subscribed to the blogger on Instagram, and 692.1 thousand people to the Telegram account. Her husband is businessman Artem ChekalYing is no less a media person who has 4 million followers on Instagram.
The couple got married in 2012. According to Chekala different, main income then fell on her husband, who until 2015 was engaged in customs clearance of imported fruits and vegetables. But after the ban on the import of agricultural products from Turkey, the company Chekalina went bankrupt. According to SPARK, ChekalYing in 2014-2016 was indeed the general director of LLC “”, which was engaged in the wholesale trade in fruits and vegetables, but its bankruptcy was filed only on March 3, 2023.
Instagram page ChekalIna created it back in 2011, where she first posted purely everyday things: food, workouts, her own photos. After the failure of her husband’s business ChekalIna began to actively maintain a “mother’s blog”, and then moved on to the topic of fitness. And over time it began to bring real income.
Later, she started running marathons for weight loss, one of the largest took place at the end of the summer of 2020. Then the prizes were an Audi A3 car and a cash reward of 3 million rubles. Beyond fitness and nutrition ChekalIna taught subscribers how to improve their financial thinking in her New Life marathon and was going to teach them about investments. The average cost of cheap fares for these marathons ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 rubles.
In “New Life” ChekalYing said that he was born in a wealthy family, but his parents did not buy him an apartment, so he decided to earn on it himself. The media note that Artyom’s father is “a big businessman and official.” However, in the public domain information about the entrepreneur Alexander ChekalNo one who would have a direct connection with the family of bloggers, the “Company” could not be found.
In 2020, Forbes placed Chekalinu to 7th place in the ranking of bloggers who earn the most on Instagram. Then the publication estimated her advertising revenue at $ 0.61 million. In the January ranking of the most popular Instagram pages from Medialogy Chekalina took fourth place. Ekaterina Varnava, Philip Kirkorov and Valery Meladze performed at the blogger’s birthday party last year.
Promises and huge mansions
On March 7, the Moscow Department of the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Chekalothers. They were accused of non-payment of taxes for 311 million rubles. The Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office has already filed charges. The investigation found that ChekalIna created an individual entrepreneur, switched to a simplified taxation system with an allowable income limit of 150 million rubles a year, and in 2020-2022 she split up the business of selling fitness marathons. Income exceeded the limit, but Chekalina was not going to switch to the general taxation system, so she registered her earnings for her husband, his mother, for her brother Chekalina Arkady and his wife Anna, writes Mash. According to him, ChekalSince 2020, ina has been able to spend about 990 million rubles in this way and underpaid the state 329.6 million rubles.
Searches were carried out not only at the bloggers themselves, but also their family members. It was reported that the security forces raided the mansion Chekalothers with an area of 400 sq.m. in the elite cottage village “Ilyinka Lanehouse” in the Moscow region. There, among other things, they found 8 kg of pure gold of the 999th test.
According to the “Company”, bloggers are building another mansion of almost 2.2 thousand square meters. in the no less elite village of Agalarov Estate in Istra near Moscow. A similar house in the same area costs almost 600 million rubles, but the Shot Telegram channel, citing its data, estimated its construction at 1 billion rubles.
Bloggers have other real estate as well. So, according to the “Company”, on Valeria Chekalinu are recorded:
- An apartment in Tolyatti with an area of almost 210 sq. m (sold in November 2013);
- A mansion in the Agalarov Estate with an area of 2.2 thousand m (from 600 million to 1 billion rubles);
- An apartment in the residential complex “Zilart” with an area of 74.7 m2 (approximately 30 million rubles).
On Artyom Chekalina:
- Apartment on Serpukhovsky Val in Moscow with an area of 150 sq.m (approximately 60 million rubles);
- Two apartments on Dekabristov Street in the north-east of Moscow (83 sq.m., about 20 million rubles and 38. sq.m., 10 million rubles, respectively);
- A country house in Ilyinka Lanehouse in the Moscow region with an area of about 400 sq.m (approximately 130 million rubles).
In 2018 ChekalIna bought a Porsche Cayenne car (about 11 million rubles), which she sold in 2021. In the same year, she got a Bentley Continental GT V8 (about 17 million rubles). Recorded on the husband:
- Lamborghini Urus 2021 (about 28 million rubles);
- Mercedes-Benz G-Class Amg G 63 2021 (about 25 million rubles);
According to Shot, ChekalYing loves fast driving, thanks to which he scored more than 400 fines for 500 thousand rubles.
Advocate Chekalof others, Mikhail Mushailov told Gazeta.ru that bloggers “are not in danger of any punishment.” “A criminal case can be initiated against a person, or it can be initiated simply because of the commission of a crime by unidentified persons. In our case, the second situation takes place, ”he explained. To the questions of the “Company” Mikhail Mushailov and representative Chekalothers Yulia Gromova did not answer.
On March 7, the bloggers themselves did not communicate with subscribers and the media. The next day ChekalYing said on his Instagram page that they have paid 1.5 billion rubles in taxes over the past year and a half and plan to pay off their debts in order not to go to jail.
Chekalina, in her stories, thanked her subscribers for their support and at the same time advertised her new product — the online producer course “PRO-launch with Valeria Chekaldifferent”, in which he promises to teach “to make millions of launches”, set up “correct thinking” and, together with a psychologist, “work out negative beliefs”. The basic format will cost 89 thousand rubles, premium – 120 thousand rubles, and VIP with a separate chat and mentor – 179 thousand rubles.
Billions in revenue and a loss-making company
All responsibility for online marathons is assumed by the individual entrepreneur Chekaldifferent. According to the most recent data at the disposal of the “Company”, officially in 2021, the IP brought her 150 million rubles.
But more income Chekalthe other brings cosmetic brand Letique. It does not have its own production, so ten different productions create products under the contract. Letique has two divisions: Letique Cosmetics and Letique Makeup. Under the name of the first, care products are sold: from anti-cellulite wraps to moisturizing masks. Letique Makeup is a decorative cosmetics.
Legally, the Letique business is registered with Bee Fit LLC. In 2021, the company earned 2.9 billion rubles, net profit – 657.7 million. The owners of Bee Fit are Valeria Chekalina (75%) and a certain Roman Vishnyak (25%), CEO – Artem Chekalin.
The sub-brand Letique Makeup is registered as a separate legal entity – LLC Letique Makeup, 70% of which belongs to Chekalinu, 30% – Vishniac.
The company in 2021 earned 113.7 million rubles, net profit – 60 million rubles. Its CEO is Yevgeny Kachaylov, who in 2017 participated in the elections of deputies of the Left Bank District of Moscow. At various times, he owned and managed several companies, but now Kachaylov occupies the chair of the general director only in Letik Makeup LLC and Letikbad LLC, registered on February 21, 2023. Probably, dietary supplements will soon be released under the Letique brand. Kachaylov refused to answer the questions of the “Company”.
Demand for cosmetics Chekalthe other is largely artificially formed, wrote the Telegram channel “The Price of Beauty”. And as proof, she notes that immediately after the launch of Letique, the blogger launched the “Wheel of Fortune” – an eternal drawing with large prizes, in order to participate in which you need to buy cosmetics. The Wheels interface is built on the principle of roulette, constantly stimulating gambling subscribers to buy more. In December 2021 Chekalina even promised to close loans to ten winners.
As a result, thousands of advertisements for the resale of Letique funds, which were bought up like lottery tickets. “There are even those who spent their entire salary on Letique products, but, without winning the promised apartment, sells new cosmetics at a discount,” the Telegram channel noted.
Moreover, many brand products are secondary. So, beauty blogger Olya RedAutumn found extremely many similarities between Letique mascara and Cabaret mascara from Vivienne Sabo, body oils with a similar product from Tom Ford, and lipsticks with Charlotte Tilbury lip cosmetics. At the same time, Letique’s prices are the same as those of luxury brands. However, Letique decorative cosmetics are produced at the factory of the budget brand Alvin D’Or (retailers have a “fork” of prices – 200-500 rubles per product, writes “Price of Beauty”.
In addition to creams and masks ChekalIna offers to buy a Letique franchise – a shopping “island” in a shopping center “with a payback of 6 months or more.” She promises a turnover of 600 thousand per month and no royalties. For cooperation with Chekalotherwise, a potential franchisee must make a lump-sum contribution of 90 thousand rubles and prepare at least 1.19 million rubles as an investment.
Blogger Anna Cherednichenko spoke about the problematic nature of such a business in 2020. According to her, the management of Letique forbade franchisees to hold promotions, but at the same time they themselves launched discounts and sweepstakes on the official website, the margins of cosmetics were low. “If there is an Instagram ad from the founder [Валерии Чекалиной]- run to buy. No advertising – no one remembers us, ”Cherednichenko said. The concept of a business model for Chekalothers were also alien, they saw such a scheme: profit is revenue minus the cost of production and rent. At the same time, “for some reason, they did not take into account the salaries of employees, taxes and other expenses,” Cherednichenko was surprised. And there are dozens of such victims across the country, Shot clarifies.
At the end of December 2021, the business empire Chekalothers became even wider – the blogger together with Anna Chekalanother who is married to Artyom’s brother Chekalina Arkadiy, launched the Leani women’s underwear brand. Director General of LLC “Leani” – Arkady Chekalin (30%), the beneficiary is his brother Artem (the remaining 70%). The financial results of the brand for the last year are unknown, but, according to the calculations of the “Company”, sales of underwear brought Chekalfor others, from the moment Leani was founded, at least 9 million rubles, excluding taxes and commissions.
Thus, for 2021, the entire business Chekalothers, including advertising on both pages on Instagram, brought them at least 3.1 billion rubles of income /
Deal with investigators as revenge
The security forces’ hunt for the blogging family could have started with a conflict Chekalanother with his former stylist Elvira Yankovskaya, the author of the Telek Telek YouTube channel, who specializes in bloggers and their sales, notes in an interview with the “Company”. Last August ChekalIna stated that the star stylist Yankovskaya deceived her for a long time by selling fake products of luxury brands. The blogger, along with other victims, of which there were more than 15 people, filed a class action lawsuit against the stylist, estimating their damage at more than 8 million rubles.
Yankovskaya denied her guilt, but the Perovsky Court of Moscow placed her under house arrest on February 4, wrote Super.ru. At the same time, right before the searches at the bloggers’ houses, Yankovskaya was released from house arrest, Mash notes. The author of the Telek Telek YouTube channel did not rule out that the stylist could make a deal with the investigation. However, her lawyer denies this in every possible way, stating that searches at Chekalothers and the court’s refusal to extend Yankovskaya’s house arrest “have nothing to do with each other and are under the jurisdiction of different departments.”
Before luxury controversy, in 2021, Chekalina and Yankovskaya created the Le Force sportswear brand (the site has been archived).
To do this, they created LEA LLC, where the stylist acted as the general director. There is only one person on the list of employees working for the company. The company has not yet provided information on income to the authorities.
In general, tax avoidance is a common savings option for bloggers selling courses, notes the author of the Telek Telek YouTube channel. Moreover, it used to be “openly taught.”
For example, makeup artist Gohar Avetisyan worked according to such a scheme, recalls YouTube blogger Victoria Yutubnaya, author of the YouTube channel. The make-up artist had six websites of the same course, indicating different IPs in the payment details.
Meanwhile, the publication’s interlocutors disagree about the reputational consequences for Chekalothers in their games with the state. YouTube believes that they are now unfamiliar with revelations Chekalsome subscribers will look at this family from a different angle, since in many public places where bloggers have not previously appeared, “they are exposed as information gypsies.”
The author of the Telek Telek YouTube channel is more skeptical. As an argument, he cited the example of infoblogger Alexandra Mitroshina, who was charged with 200 million rubles of debt to the state last year by the tax authorities. According to the interlocutor of the “Company”, the blogger sold several more courses, the income from which went to pay the fine and continues to work. According to his observations, part of the audience is sure that the searches are “just the start of a “warm-up” to a new course.”
The author of the Telek Telek Youtube channel calls “cunning and permissiveness” the main reasons for bloggers’ fraud with taxes.
And on Chekalother checks will not end. A large-scale check of the Federal Tax Service awaits several dozen more bloggers, including the author of the “Marathon of Desires” Elena Blinovskaya, the wife of rapper Dzhigan Oksana Samoilova, the founder of the Transformer business club Dmitry Portnyagin and others, wrote Telegram channel “112”. Kommersant’s sources in the Investigative Committee told about the same.
Concerning Chekalothers, then Aleksey Nechaev, head of the New People party, unexpectedly stood up for them. He stated that they “did not make a house and a car for themselves on government contracts and corruption schemes”, but “earned money themselves and spent it as they saw fit”, and in general “they are the very drivers of the economy that the authorities constantly talk about, not corrupt officials who should be ashamed. Nechaev promised to discuss this topic at a party meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. “Such family businesses need to be supported, and not cut off their wings on takeoff,” Nechaev concluded.