So what’s next for the much maligned people featured on the hit site Rich Kids of Instagram? Some are grounded from over-sharing on the Internet, others embarrassed by the attention and some might be heading for TV.
The Tumblr blog sprung to life on July 13 and was an instant hit. It is a collection of photos found on Instagram that capture young wealthy people enjoying a life of minimally employed opulence: They’re on lavish vacations, taking the most expensive modes of transportation, showing off designer belongings and doing all manner of things with and to champagne. Mixed in with the fun (seriously, who wouldn’t want to water-slide off a yacht?) are less creative attempts to brag, like sepia-shaded photos of exorbitant restaurant receipts.
“A few glasses of wine and some misspelled Instagram searches led to its creation,” the anonymous brains behind Rich Kids of Instagram, or RKOI, told CNN. Many of the images featured on the Tumblr were tagged with keywords on Instagram that made them easy to find, like #wealth, #mansion and #yacht. There’s a Hilton, a Trump and a Brant in the mix, but many of the smartphone-photography enthusiasts are relatively unknown, for now.
While the reaction to the Tumblr has been largely one of disgust and anger — “Pretty sad how those Rich Kids of Instagram will never know the value of a hard days OH MY GOD I HATE THEM SO MUCH,” tweeted Josh Hara — some of the kids are enjoying the attention. The blog’s creators said they’ve had requests from people who want to be featured on the site. Many Instagramers are unselfconsciously tagging their photos with the #rkoi hashtag, hoping to get featured on the blog.
“I believe that the people who are outraged may be a little jealous,” said Tom Ierna, a 19-year-old self-described “entrepreneur, New Yorker, blogger, mogul.” Ierna’s photos have been featured on RKOI multiple times — one shows him in front of a large yacht in the Hamptons and another is an image of a Versace gold-plated AK47. (He does not own the gun; he just snapped a photo of it in an East Hampton boutique.)
The public’s fascination with these kids has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood, where wealthy personalities are a huge draw on shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and the “Real Housewives” series. Naturally, a reality TV casting agent has been reaching out to many of the blog’s subjects.
“They seem to have huge personalities and would be amazing on TV,” said Lexi Shoemaker, a casting agent who has worked on hits like “The Biggest Loser” and Bravo’s “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.” She would not share any details about her current project, but said the kids she had contacted had been receptive so far.
“I would consider doing a reality show, it would be a very smart business decision,” said Ierna, who said he has been offered a spot on a reality TV show in the past but turned it down. He did not say if he was contacted by Shoemaker.
Not everyone is interested in the fame. The Tumblr’s creators have received a few requests to remove images and other photos have been deleted from Instagram by their owners. Luckily, most of the originals live on in all their gilded glory on the RKOI site.
“My friends and I don’t want to be associated with this. This is very embarrassing,” Annabel Schwartz told “Good Morning America.” The 19-year-old posted an image of herself and four friends in front of a helicopter while on vacation in Saint-Tropez. She has not deleted the public photo from her Instagram.
Alexa Dell, daughter of Dell CEO Michael Dell, had her social media presence quickly scrubbed from the Internet after a photo of her brother on a private plane to Fiji, feasting on a spread of fruit 3-feet deep, made it to the RKOI blog. Bloomberg Businessweek dug into a Dell regulatory filing and reported that the Dell family pays approximately $2.7 million a year for personal security. Between her active Instagram and Twitter accounts, Alexa Dell was leaving a trail of information, including locations and timing of trips, that could have been used by kidnappers or burglars.
Andres Morales,15, thinks being on the blog is a chance to promote his real passion, being a pilot. “Aviation is my life,” Morales told CNN. In his RKOI Instagram photo, he is standing in front of a Quest Kodiak airplane, which typically costs about $1.7 million. It’s not his, but he is checking it out “for future interest.” Though only in the 10th grade, Morales has spent much of his life perusing aviation and flying, starting when he was eight. He is proud of his hobby — he has 300 hours of flight experience and wants to be a commercial airline pilot when he’s older. He’s also proud of his lifestyle.
“Yes, my lifestyle is a jet-setter lifestyle,” he said. “I travel a lot and love to fly private and in first class.” Morales thinks the interest in the Rich Kids of Instagram blog is because “people cant find anything else to do with their lives so they stalk other people’s photos and make a big deal out of it.”
Ierna speculates the blog has become popular because people are “intrigued to see how the 1% lives.” He said he was amused with all the attention at first, but that it has become a headache.
Ierna has family money — both his father and grandfather were successful businessmen — but he also has his own brand and career plans. He’d like to attend NYU and study business, eventually opening high-end nightclubs, restaurants and clothing boutiques around the globe.
“I think it accurately represents my lifestyle to some extent,” said Ierna of his photos. “For the most part I live a very normal life.”
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