Pity the rich kids of Instagram

Rich kids showing off their wealth on Instagram is a sad cry for attention.


Almost 5,300 people worldwide joined the ranks of the so-called ultra high-net-worth individuals last year, says a report by Knight Frank. Which means more competition among buyers of upmarket real estate, from great estates to vineyards, ski chalets and riding stables.

"Asia's wealthiest are keen buyers of wine estates," The Guardian reminded us, while "those from Africa and the Middle East favour equestrian properties". Europe and north America's super-rich "prefer second homes in the Alps or the Rockies".

It also means there'll be more rich 20-somethings posting photos of themselves online revelling in their huge wealth. Sunday Times columnist Tanya Gold says she feels sorry for these so-called 'rich kids of Instagram'.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

"I do not think a person who preens on a private aeroplane, or wears multiple Rolexes on one arm can be happy. Rather it is the desperation of the unhappy to appear happy by shouting at the world look at my stuff! Don't you wish you had my stuff?"

Lots of evidence, says Gold, suggests that "rampant materialism" only makes people more unhappy, "because it is so isolating, and, in the end, never enough, which is why there is such a glut of expensive junk on sale. All you need is love and there isn't much of that on Instagram, which is more about boasting."

The dark roots of recovery

The celebrity world has embraced "the bob", according to The Sunday Times. It's a good sign, apparently: if women's hair is getting shorter, the economy is on the up. "Short hair means more frequent trips to the hairdresser and that is not cheap, so the fashion to go shorter suggests there is more money around not so much the green shoots of recovery as the dark roots."

Among celebrity women who have gone for a shorter cut are Kristen Stewart, Kim Kardashian, Rosamund Pike, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Anne Hathaway.

"It is always the celebrities who start it off," says hairdresser Stuart Phillips, who charges up to £200 per hair cut. "I meet people on a daily basis and they seem to be spending far more money on their hair. Products are flying off the shelf." Skirts are getting shorter too, says The Sunday Times and short skirts have been seen as an index of recovery ever since the invention of the Hemline index in the 1920s.

l It's not often you find an artist saying his paintings are overpriced, so hats off to Gerhard Richter, who's been doing precisely that. He told the German daily Die Zeit that he is amazed by the astronomical sums being paid for his work and calls the art market "hopelessly excessive". Richter, 83, watched a recent auction at Sotheby's in London with "horror", after an anonymous buyer paid £30.4m for his 1986 oil-on-canvas, Abstraktes Bild.

My advice to him? Enjoy it while you can: the art market is full of gullible buyers with more money than sense.Take full advantage of them.

Tabloid money: we're right to sell off chunks of the Lake District

"Nigel Farage stands accused of making up policy as he goes along," says Tony Parsons in The Sun. "Maybe he does. But then, don't they all? David Cameron promised to bring down net immigration to below 100,000 No ifs, no buts' then watched the number of people coming to the UK exceed the number leaving by around 300,000. Nick Clegg promised the National Union of Students he would oppose any increase in student fees cross his heart and hope to die then put them up to £9,000."

London mayoral hopeful David Lammy "is a nice chap but seems determined to live up to his woeful appearance on Celebrity Mastermind in 2009", says Jane Moore in The Sun, "when, among other lack-of-knowledge howlers, the then Labour minister for higher education answered that Henry the Eighth was succeeded by Henry the Seventh. This week he's impressing us again, with his declaration that shoplifters should get a lighter sentence if they steal from a wealthier large store rather than a corner shop.

In other words, he's focusing on the impact of the crime rather than the perpetrator's moral obligation not to commit it in the first place. Flip the logic and it's akin to saying the murderer of a homeless man with no family should be treated more leniently than that of a wealthy banker with four kids."

"Seven chunks of the Lake District National Park have been put up for sale by the cash-strapped government authority that runs it," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "You can buy 120 metres of beautiful riverbank on the Derwent for around £8,000 or a spectacular mountain lake for £20,000. Critics say this is absurd, because if you've sold off your assets, what do you do next time cash is short? Simple. Sell more because the government doesn't really understand how to mend a dry stone wall or thin a wood or cull a badger, whereas the sort of people who are buying these beauty spots just might."