Over the weekend, the internet briefly lit up with reports that Rihanna—full name Robyn Rihanna Fenty—planned to launch a winery. The news bubbled from fan Twitter to the mainstream, nabbing write-ups from W magazine (which has since updated its story) and the New York Observer. There turned out to be just one problem, though: There’s no proof that the owner of the supposed alcohol brand has any relationship with Rihanna.
The source for the winery claim was a tweet from an anonymous fan account, which paired a screenshot of an online trademark registry database entry for the name “Fenty Estates Wine and Spirits Company” with a photo of the legendary stemware stealer raising a glass of red. The idea itself seemed plausible: Rihanna does like wine. She already runs the successful Fenty Puma apparel line, and her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty launched to industry fanfare earlier this month. Adding wine and liquor would be a tall order for someone still wrapping up a beauty rollout, but what’s a little extra hustle if you’re Rihanna?
But what if you’re not? Other than a shared name, the owner of the “Fenty Estates Wine” trademark, JGC Global LLC, appears unrelated. In fact, JGC Global is seemingly so obscure that its entire online footprint consists of a handful of alcohol-related trademark applications. The company is listed as based in Delaware, but that doesn’t mean anything geographically: Delaware just happens to be an advantageous place to register a company. Rihanna’s reps told the Fader that the alcohol brand reports were “totally untrue.”
Legitimate Rihanna trademarks, including her stage name, her charity, and Fenty Beauty, are controlled by an entity called Roraj Trade LLC. But even legit trademarks are a tricky way to divine the future of celebrity merchandise: Famous people routinely register potential trademarks in order to reserve future opportunities or protect themselves from opportunists. Roraj Trade owns a number of unused Rihanna marks, like “Fenty 88,” a nonexistent brand of “hosiery, lingerie, socks.” The real Rihanna is selling officially licensed socks right now, but they’re a collaboration with the brand Stance, not her own label.
Fan accounts serve fans, of course, and sometimes—particularly when they preserve a newsworthy deleted tweet or disappearing video—journalists too. Just don’t believe everything you read on stan Twitter.