The Wallace Collection Museum replied to my questions about how exactly Michelle Muscat got to try on the necklace that was the talk of the town earlier today.
The museum clarified that the Muscats are not benefactors of the museum. When asked whether the museum carries out enhanced due dilligence for donations from PEPs, a spokesperson for the museum stated that it carries out an “appropriate level of due dilligence” on all donations without specifying any further.
As for a question about how many people got to wear Shiv Narayan’s necklace, the museum stated that the jeweller held “a private event” and that it cannot comment on specifics.
As a journalist, sitting back and watching whatever it is that’s got Maltese people chattering away this week is an exercise that is equal parts fascinating and concerning.
You can probably imagine my amusement at seeing thousands of people mocking the daylights out of Michelle Muscat after that devilishly hilarious Lovin Malta article. The article focuses on Michelle’s erudite review of a necklace that costs so much money the jewellers who made it aren’t even willing to put it up for sale.
The fact that people reacted in such a visceral way, even though the Muscats have been out of politics for the past three years, tells you all you need to know about their reputation and how they’re perceived in the eyes of the general public. While I’m sure that they still have ranks of adulating loyalists within the Labour Party, this onslaught of ridicule is a far, far cry from the mass meeting throngs gathered to hear the great Joseph bleat.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about seeing the artful dodger and Malta’s favourite socialite at our airport (you know, the same one that heavily depends on the airline they looted to kingdom come). Both of them were clad from head to toe in the kind of gear a cheap Hollywood movie would think of as a disguise for a secret agent, baseball cap and sunglasses included.
Again – a far cry from the days in which we’d see the couple smirking and surrounded by supporters everywhere they go.
Of course, questions need to be asked here – according to Lovin Malta’s article, our dear Michelle “got to try this highly valued piece of work earlier this month in London where it was being showcased at the iconic Wallace Collection Museum”.
A quick look at the website of the museum informs you that there are three ways of contributing to the museum’s coffers: you can give a small donation, become a member, or become a benefactor. Becoming a member entitles you to the enjoyment of “exclusive benefits” like events and discounts, whereas becoming a benefactor means one gets to enjoy “exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the collection”.
It is presumed that us ordinary plebeians would not be able to gain this “behind-the-scenes access”. In order to wear a necklace that costs more money than most people will ever see in their lives, one must surely bring out a big, fat wad of cash to secure the privilege of doing so.
How much did the Muscats fork out so we could be regaled with a review that could have just as easily come out of the mouth of a five year old?
Judging from how much this museum plays up the exclusivity angle, I imagine it must have cost a pretty penny to do so.
Who paid for this stunt which, like many other stunts in Michelle’s ‘career’ as ‘the spouse of the prime minister’, backfired so spectacularly? Because if her disgraced husband’s asset declarations are to be believed, he must have been sweating blood at the sight of his dearly beloved wearing a necklace that probably starved a whole segment of underpaid Indian workers to unearth.
For what it’s worth, I’ve sent questions to the museum on the matter, and will report any response I may receive from them.
One of Daphne’s pet peeves was how Michelle had turned Villa Francia and Villa Girgenti into her own personal playground, hosting ridiculous “high tea” events and mingling with people who were desperate enough to be seen in her exalted company. Freeloading and the abuse of taxpayer money for personal gain have been a trademark of the Labour Party’s disgusting government since the minute they were elected.
Michelle’s behaviour is certainly not new. We’ve long been forced to bear witness to ridiculous displays of affluence and power. And this is exactly where the public’s visceral reaction to the already-infamous clip came from.
I completely disagree with the idea that this story is a distraction from the much bigger issues happening this week, especially the scathing ruling from the Court of Appeal which confirmed the annulment of the fraudulent hospitals concession.
It is the Muscats who spearheaded the corrupt deal in the first place. Joseph Muscat was the one who received tens of thousands of euros in sham consultancy fees from a Swiss company that received millions of euros from Steward Healthcare during the firm’s takeover of the concession from Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH). Muscat was the one who defended the deal throughout the whole debacle, aided and abetted by his enablers in Cabinet.
While it is true that the general public may lose sight of the bigger picture when dealing with an explosive cocktail of in-your-face smugness and a crippling lack of self-awareness, it is our responsibility as journalists to contextualise these situations and remind everyone what the bigger picture is.
The Muscats ought to be in the crosshairs of any serious attempt at pulling the country out of the shameful depths it has plummeted to on their watch.