Take a look at the “Rich Kids of Instagram” blog and you’ll see over-the-top photos of luxury bags, massive bottles of Dom Perignon, and flights on private jets. The photos are posted by an anonymous source, who wades through Instagram to find photos of young people flaunting their wealth.
But if you ask some of the so-called “rich kids” featured on the site, their lives aren’t like that all of the time.
“We just live a certain lifestyle and people perceive it in their own way,” Reya Benitez, daughter of legendary Studio 54 DJ John “Jellybean” Benitez, said to Business Insider. “We’re not flashing things.”
Benitez has more than 3,000 followers on Instagram. Gaia Matisse, great-great-granddaughter of French painter Henri Matisse and daughter of the late, famed pop artist Alain Jacquet, has more than 15,700 Instagram followers.
“Any picture can be turned into something else,” Gaia said. “Our Instagrams are just fun photos of us having fun. There may be a helicopter in the background, but that’s just us.”
But according to aspiring fashion designer Andrew Warren, the ringleader and self-proclaimed “Kris Jenner of the group” — which also includes Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kyra, Donald Trump’s daughter Tiffany, Magic Johnson’s son EJ, and actress Bella Thorne — his friends are headed towards big things of their own.
“I try to push everyone toward what they actually want to do,” he said. Andrew has more than 34,000 Instagram followers. “My friends are all really different but talented at different things.”
We spent a day with Andrew, Gaia, and Reya to get a glimpse at what life as an elite 20-something New Yorker is really like.
We met Andrew at his apartment, located in a stunning, two-towered co-op building that fronts Central Park. Built in the 1930s, the building was at different times home to Marc Jacobs, Conan O'Brien, and members of the Genovese crime family.
His family occupies a second-floor spread here, where Andrew has lived his whole life. His dad is a prominent real estate investor, and his grandfather was a fashion tycoon. 'He passed before I met him,' Andrew said. 'There's a statue in the Garment District of a man sewing, and his name is the last one on it.'
Andrew has an interest in fashion, too. He recently launched his own clothing line called Just Drew, available online and at Blue & Cream, a boutique with locations in Manhattan and the Hamptons. He was originally asked to do a T-shirt line with a friend, but they lost touch.
He plans to show his spring line in October, when all of his friends, including best friend Tiffany Trump, can be there. Tiffany is the youngest daughter of Donald Trump and is currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying for the LSAT. 'I want everyone to be focused on my line,' Andrew said. 'I don't want to be competing with a bunch of people during Fashion Week.'
You can spot a bunch of Andrew's famous friends -- including Tiffany and Reya -- in the promotional video for Just Drew. 'I want it to be for the next generation,' he said of his line. 'When I have a group dinner or go somewhere with my friends, they're all so different, but at the end of the day they all come together and we all have fun, and that's kind of what my collection is ... It has a piece for everyone.'
Gaia arrives to Andrew's place and models two pieces from his collection: a faux pony-hair skirt and a pink bubble gum top. Daughter of Alain Jacquet and great-great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse, Gaia says she wants to pursue a different art form: acting. 'My father passed away my second year of high school and I started working with my acting mentor kind of as therapy,' she says. She's filmed several shorts this summer but says she's looking for an agent so that she can go on more auditions.
'I've always travelled since I was tiny. My first word was 'avion' which is 'aeroplane' in French,' Gaia tells us as we get in an Uber on the way to lunch. After graduating from NYU's independent studies program in May, Gaia asked her mum to buy her a one-way ticket to France. Paris, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Tunisia, Lebanon, and the South of France were among the stops she made with friends this summer.
Gaia doesn't go anywhere without her dog, Bambi. 'My mum has a Sotheby's Preferred Card, which lets you go to any museum in the world and skip the line and not pay, like a VIP entrance,' Gaia tells us. 'So I took her card and brought Bambi in the Louvre. She has an 'emotional support dog' tag. You pay for a thing online, it's like $70, and then nobody really knows. Anyone can order one.'
As we drive to lunch, Andrew tells us about his summers in the Hamptons. His family owns a house in Water Mill, right next door to designer Dennis Basso, a longtime family friend. '(The Hamptons are) really nice during the day, but at night I just get too bored,' Andrew says. 'I like to be doing something all of the time, like working on my line, or doing something. I can't just sit around.'
Plenty of selfies are snapped throughout the day. Andrew and Gaia say they don't really have a social media strategy, though they have both racked up tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. 'I honestly don't care, because I'm not posting pictures for other people,' Gaia says. 'It's only when you're abroad that you kind of have to pay attention. Like, if I'm in Paris and I post something at noon there, no one will see it because they're all asleep.'
We grab a quick lunch at Il Mulino Prime in Soho. Andrew tells us he picked it because his parents are investors in the restaurant group. The three-course prix fixe lunch costs $25 each, but the kids get away with only ordering an appetizer.
'My friends always tell me I'm the Kris Jenner of the friend group. I brought all of our friends together. I'm a little OCD and I have to plan everything, so I'm the one who always takes care of it,' Andrew says. 'I always like doing things in a group setting and being around other people.'
Reya Benitez (left) joins us from across the street, where she works with a luxury concierge company. 'My parents have always been strict with me, telling me, 'You've gotta work. You've gotta put time in,'' she tells us. 'They want me to build my career, not just let my friends overtake everything. If I could, I'd be out gallivanting, going to restaurants and shopping, but I can't do that.'
Long term, Reya is considering a career in music. Her dad is John 'Jellybean' Benitez, a legendary DJ who dated Madonna in the '80s. Reya made her DJ debut at Gaia's birthday bash in April, but she hasn't decided if it's the career path she wants to take. 'I know how to do it because of my dad. It's always been in my life,' she says, adding that she's also interested in modelling.
We get on the topic of the 'Rich Kids of Instagram' blog. No one knows who runs it, but Andrew and Gaia tell us they have heard of prominent families offering money for the pictures of their children to be taken down from the site. 'I just think there's nothing we can do at this point because we have no control over who's posting,' Gaia says. 'There was one that was me and a friend with two Chanel bags -- and it was on the subway. Like, they pick that picture to say, 'Look at these rich girls with their Chanel bags,' but we were on the subway.'
The 'Rich of Kids of Instagram' brand has taken on a life of its own, with a book deal and line of merchandise. 'I would really love to know who it is (behind the blog). It's like 'Gossip Girl,'' Reya says. She and her friends agree that the blog is filled with kids desperate to show off their wealth -- and they don't identify with that. 'Some of these kids, they're posting pictures of stacks of their money. I would never do that,' Reya says.
After we finish lunch, we're off to Dennis Basso's Fashion Week show, where Andrew, Gaia, and Reya get front-row seats.
Dennis Basso is known for his fur-centric designs and beautiful gowns. As the show wrapped up, Andrew, Gaia, and Reya made their way over to the Alice & Olivia show.
For these socialites, Fashion Week is packed full of parties. The next day, they head to a soirée hosted by DuJour Media, where they're guests of honour and asked to walk the red carpet.
The party took place at Avenue, a hot club in the Meatpacking District. They have a table reserved just for them and drink Patron, Grey Goose, and Dom Perignon that comes out of a glow-in-the-dark bottle.
Reya's dad, Jellybean Benitez, makes an appearance, too. Reya tells me he's playing a set at Manhattan hot spot Pacha later that night as part of an event honouring the late club promoter Rob Fernandez.
A group of photographers surrounds the group of friends as they dance. Here's Gaia dressed in sparkly blue-and-black Armani.
They're all regulars on the Manhattan party circuit, naming Meatpacking District spots like Up & Down, Gilded Lily, and Happy Endings as some of their favourites. 'We know all of the doormen, and they know us, so we usually just go in,' Andrew tells us.
The friends were recently featured in a spread in DuJour magazine. There were copies of the magazine on every table in the club.
However, it's a fine line to walk when you're in the public eye like these kids are. In August, the Daily Mail wrote that Andrew, Reya, and Tiffany were 'wild' at a Jason Derulo concert in the Hamptons. 'Tiffany wailed in ecstasy and gasped for air as she danced feet away from the hip hop singer,' the Daily Mail wrote. 'They're obsessed with our group of friends,' Andrew says of the incident.
The next day, Andrew Instagrams a photo of himself with Gaia, Reya, and Jason Derulo, who played a few songs at the DuJour party.
Of the role social media plays in their lifestyle, Andrew says the 'rich kids of Instagram' moniker bothered him a lot at first. He tries not to think about it so much now. 'Now that I have my own brand, it's followers, and no matter where they're coming from it's still followers,' he says. 'I'm not asking anyone to follow me, so if someone doesn't like something, it's not my problem.'
'They will just look for any one thing they can use to make us look a certain way,' Reya says. 'My parents have never been people to say, 'Here's a credit card, go spend whatever you want.' They look at my bank account every day, every week ... They're still very zoned in on our lives.'
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