Women hold pictures of Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been in the position since 1989. Image by EPA PHOTO

Bogus Forbes cover is a supreme misleader

Nik Dirga May 3, 2024

Forbes magazine has named Iran’s Supreme Leader as the world’s most powerful man on its cover.


False. Forbes has made no such announcement. The magazine cover is fake.

A Forbes magazine cover naming Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the world’s most powerful man has gone viral on social media.

The cover, however, is fake. While the mocked-up image loosely mimics the design of the publication, editors at the US magazine have not named Khamenei as the world’s most powerful man.

It’s being shared alongside captions, declaring: “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is featured on the cover of Forbes magazine with the caption ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World’.”

The fake cover features a picture of Khamenei with the words “THE MOST POWERFUL MAN”. It’s being widely shared on Facebook as well as on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. 

Fake Forbes magazine Ayatollah Khamenei cover
 The image is quite convincing, but it’s a fake cover. 

The posts emerged shortly after Iranian forces launched drones and missiles at Israel on April 14, and are frequently being shared with comments such as “Iran is fighting for humanity!”.

While the fabricated cover shows the issue date as “15th April 2024”, Forbes magazine is currently only published eight times a year, with the current issue bearing an “April-May 2024” date.

The mock-up has a typo in the top banner wording: “The definitive ranking of the most power [sic] people in the world.”

Also, a haphazardly capitalised headline proclaims “Only Military bases were targeted by Iranian Attack”.

The April-May issue of the actual magazine features a cover story on ‘the world’s billionaires’, bearing an image of ultra-rich American businessman Todd Boehly.

Forbes magazine April/May 2024 front cover
 The genuine cover for April/May 2024. 

The image in question is not a real Forbes cover,” a magazine spokesperson told AFP Fact Check.

The image of Khamenei used in the fake version of the cover has been published several times on Iranian government websites, dating back to at least 2015, as well as on some Iranian media stories.

While Forbes has run “most powerful people” lists in the past, the most recent appears to have been in May 2018 – and Khamenei only made it to number 17.

The claim has been debunked by several other organisations, including Reuters, The Quint and Check Your Fact.

The Verdict

The claim that Forbes magazine has named Iran’s Supreme Leader as the world’s most powerful man on its cover is false.

The cover is fake and the magazine has never named the Ayatollah as the world’s most powerful man.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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