The real story behind the Instagram account where rich kids pay $1,000 for a shoutout

Morgan Sung

Flaunting wealth is an activity as old as civilization itself; from lavish parties to elaborate jewelry, throwing away money is a beloved international pastime for the privileged. But how far are they willing to flex? Would anyone really pay more than $1,000 just to be included in a gallery of other rich kids? 

A website and corresponding Instagram account called Golden Price Tag is gaining infamy for its premise: If you pay $1,000 (sometimes more) the site will upload your photo and display how much you paid for the feature. One user paid $3,000, according to the site, to add a cellphone-quality photo of himself sitting in a sports car. 

The real story behind the Instagram account where rich kids pay $1,000 for a shoutout

Image: golden price tag

The real story behind the Instagram account where rich kids pay $1,000 for a shoutout

Image: golden price tag

It's baffling — why throwaway so much money? 

The site's creator, Leonard Weinstock, started it as a personal project. The 20-year-old spent the last year learning to code and created Golden Price Tag to flex his skills.

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Calling the website a "fun idea or experiment," he sent the project to his friends around his native Berlin, Germany to see who would be willing to spend more money than his initial $1,000. Three of them casually threw down a grand (or more) for the "inside joke." 

"The ultimate dare, if you will," Weinstock told Mashable over Instagram DM. 

An inside joke among friends — for most people, at least — is captioning Venmo descriptions with tongue and eggplant emoji, or jokingly requesting $6969 and knowing it won't be fulfilled. Supporting a friend's project usually entails tossing them a couple of bucks for their zine, or buying them a drink after their show. Golden Price Tag takes it to a whole new level. 

When asked if soliciting that much money from his friends changed the dynamic of their friendships, Weinstock said "the amount wasn't really a big deal for them anyways." 

After he posted the photos on Instagram, photography blog PetaPixel picked it up as legitimate. From there, word spread of a bizarre Instagram account with a relatively low follower count getting rich teens to spend thousands for a feature. At the time of writing, the account has 3,885 followers, and has been featured in a variety of outlets and blogs. 

"It's a pretty unique and controversial concept which makes it an easy target to make fun of," Weinstock said, brushing off criticism and negative publicity. "And with the direction this project is taking, it's better for goldenpricetag to be infamous than not famous at all and every news article helps with that." 

Now that the website is making the rounds, Weinstock said he received his first offer from someone outside of his friend group. On Sunday evening, the person paid $1,000 for a feature on Golden Price Tag. 

"Still less expensive than the champagne that day," the newest Gold Member wrote in a self-written caption for a photo that received a pitiful 94 likes on Instagram. 

Weinstock is approaching the project like a social experiment instead of a mid-tier grift. He's fascinated by the people who are willing to pay for features who aren't in his friend group, because they aren't "in" on their joke. 

"What will really be interesting to see is what sort of dynamic will occur now that the word is out that this site exists," he said. "Are there more people who are willing to pay $1,000, and if yes, what are their motivations?"

The site's terms and conditions state that if the transaction is deemed "high risk," Golden Price Tag requires proof of identification in the form of a government-issued ID and copies of recent bank statements. 

The Daily Dot notes that Golden Price Tag's mission is along the same vein as the 2008 iPhone app I Am Rich, which got users to pay $999.99 just for the app to tell them that they were, in fact, rich. The App Store took it down within 24 hours, but not before eight people paid for it. 

Weinstock will probably "throw a party" with the $7,500 he supposedly made off Golden Price Tag, assuming he didn't pay himself for his own feature, and then invest "whatever's left" in his next coding project. 

"But now is actually not the right moment to decide that because I don't know how big Golden Price Tag will get," he said. "I think your picture is missing on the site." 

I've got student loans to pay off, but thanks, bud. 

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