Last year, socialite Jean Shafiroff was in the market for a new car.
“I always thought it would be fun to have a pink convertible,” she said. “But my husband made it clear that we can only drive gray or black cars now.
“It’s not cool to be too flashy,” Shafiroff added of her investment adviser spouse’s newfound rationale. “People want to be politically correct.”
In an age of Kardashian excess and an AOC-inspired backlash against Manhattan’s most moneyed, a subset of wealthy New Yorkers is attempting to lie low.
Boastful Instagram posts have been shelved, over-the-top bar mitzvahs nixed and $30,000 shopping sprees called off. Instead, the discreet elite are selling their multimillion-dollar homes via so-called “whisper listings,” re-wearing couture gowns and even flying commercial.
According to Compass realty president Leonard Steinberg, you can blame the current “geopolitical scenario” for the new faux austerity.
“There has been this phenomenal growth in the socialist movement, and you don’t want to be identified as a person with a tremendous level of wealth,” added Steinberg.
As a result, said Betsy Cox, who owns a high-end concierge service, “A lot of my clients have stopped flying private and they won’t post photos from first class [on social media]. There is now a stigma to flying private. Even amongst peers it comes off as too flash.”
The recent “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, where bigwigs — including Hollywood celebrities as well as top New York City attorney Gordon Caplan — paid their kids’ way into universities including Yale and Stanford has tainted the rich even more.
“Everything is muted now,” said Amanda Uhry, the president of Manhattan Private School Advisors.
“The more you look like you’re flashing your money, the more guilty by association you will look with the 1 percenters who do bad things.”
Parents are trying to relay that message to their entitled offspring.
“You don’t see as many Rolexes at school,” said Cox.
Six-figure bar mitzvahs have also been scaled down.
“Parents don’t rent out Yankee Stadium anymore for bar mitzvahs or have 400 people at the Museum of Natural History,” said Uhry. Now, even the wealthiest bar mitzvah parents “go to Chelsea Piers like everyone else.”
It’s not just kids who are getting cut off. Philanthropist Lizzie Asher recently poo-pooed a pal who threw himself a 35th birthday party.
“That was frowned upon among my friends,” said Asher. “The reaction was: ‘We love that person, but is that really necessary?’ It’s not a milestone.”
Meanwhile, Amanda Sanders, a celebrity image consultant and personal shopper, started seeing a shift in clothing budgets last December.
“It’s no longer $20,000 or $30,000 annually,” said Sanders, who added that clients are opting to recycle — à la Kate Middleton — and sometimes alter past gala gowns rather than spend five figures on a new one-night-only ensemble.
Even her male clients are becoming more aware of how their clothes — and toys — affect public image.
“We’re seeing a lot of them move to the Tesla,” she said. “Even though it’s expensive, it’s still a car that sort of says, ‘I’m thinking about the environment.’ ”
Enlarge ImageJeff Leatham posing by one of his flower wallsGetty Images for Four Seasons Ho
That attitude has filtered into events, too.
“People are done with those flower walls . . . it’s a really quick $10,000 moment,” said celebrity florist Jeff Leatham, who created the flower walls for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s 2014 wedding.
“[Clients] are being a little bit more understated. No one nowadays likes to have that question of, ‘What are you doing with these 100,000 flowers after the party is over?’ ”
Often it’s not necessarily about spending less — but rather having fewer people know your worth and habits.
Shafiroff admitted she has started saving her show-stopper diamonds for intimate at-home gatherings.
Both Leatham and Richard Kirshenbaum, an advertising mogul and essayist documenting life amongst the 1 percent, report that party hosts are trying to limit how many photos from their events end up on social media.
Another thing looky-loos won’t have the privilege of seeing? The city’s ultimate real estate porn.
While the housing market has become a democratic free for all thanks to listing websites like StreetEasy, Zillow and Trulia, NYC’s toniest addresses are increasingly unadvertised.
In fact, of the 43 homes that were sold in New York for more than $20 million in 2018, 21 were not on the market at the time of sale, according to Compass data.
Part of it is rich folks not wanting to flaunt their homes and pricey belongings, including art collections. But also: “People feel like they are buying into a club that is word-of-mouth only and for ‘people like us,’ ” said Steinberg of Compass. “That has value.”
One Flatiron resident whose $10 million apartment is for sale — but not publicly listed — spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity.
“My privacy is very important to me,” he said. “I don’t need my neighbors or business associates know what I am selling.”
After all, money can buy you a lot of things — but not necessarily good publicity.
“These people aren’t [downplaying their wealth] to appear tasteful,” said Uhry. “They are doing this so people aren’t suspicious or angry. Money can be a double-edged sword.”