Update – the story has been updated to include amendments following a Right of Reply submission. The text of the Right of Reply has been partially reproduced here.
If you had to look at the Instagram profiles of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s family without any context, you’d be forgiven for assuming you’re looking at the highly curated news feed of the family of a third-world country dictator. In fact, you’d be close to the mark, albeit with one major caveat to consider – this is the family of a prime minister of a supposedly democratic country who resigned under pressure after leading one of the most corrupt administrations this country has ever seen.
While the country buckles under the weight of poor infrastructure, a public sector that is bogged down by a veritable army of Labour Party acolytes, and a sense of deep-seated dissatisfaction with the incompetence or worse, deliberate negligence of the authorities, Muscat’s family has been living large with nary a care in the world.
Muscat’s salary stood at €50,000 per year throughout his tenure, with his savings hovering at the €75,000 mark year in, year out. We also know that following his disgraceful exit, Muscat was paid €120,000 in terminal benefits, was gifted an €11,800 per month contract with a loss-making company owned by casino operators who benefited from a sweetheart deal when Muscat was still in government, and also made at least €60,000 from a consultancy firm that directly received millions in payments from former hospitals concessionaire Steward Healthcare.
Muscat is currently the focus of a criminal investigation about the rescinded hospitals deal, which was twice slammed by two separate courts due to the fact that it was steeped in fraudulent and collusive behaviour from start to finish.
Currently, Joseph Muscat heads the Malta Professional Football Clubs Association, an appointment which elicited sportwashing accusations in his regard and which led to a significant amount of internal turmoil within the association. Meanwhile, Michelle’s NGO Marigold Foundation had also raised eyebrows in its own right. An article published by The Shift showed that the charity spent nearly half the funds it received in donations on events and advertising, according to its latest available set of accounts.
While Muscat’s questionable post-politics dealings alone certainly make for a cushy nest egg, an investigation by this website raises questions about just how much money the Muscat family has at its disposal given that, based on analysis of just two years’ worth of Instagram posts alone, Michelle Muscat was seen sporting eleven different handbags which, if bought at retail store prices, cost a whopping €38,465.
Besides the handbags seen in the infographic below, this website also spotted another one – a Louis Vuitton Monogram Saint Placide Crossbody Bag – from a post in 2021 that cost €1,610.
Using open-source investigative techniques, this website was able to identify Michelle’s costly accessories to obtain the figures illustrated above. It is pertinent to note that the selection of the handbags that were identifiable is limited since reverse image searches only work effectively when the object of interest is clearly visible. Obviously, the tools I used are also limited in the sense that I could only base my analysis on what was actually visible on their Instagram profiles, meaning it is entirely possible that the collection is far larger than advertised.
Using the same method used for Michelle’s ostentatious collection, this website was able to identify a watch on Joseph’s wrist that retails for €23,816 and a €1,207 handbag that was worn by one of their daughters.
Two years of leisurely globe-trotting
Besides sporting luxury goods which most people wouldn’t even dream of buying, Joseph Muscat and his family were also abroad for a significant chunk of the last two years.
From the information that can be gleaned from the Muscat family’s showy Instagram posts, this website was able to confirm that the Muscats visited a total of at least 21 different cities in a total of 13 different countries. Italy seems to be their preferred destination, given that within the past two years alone, they visited Naples, Milan, Rome, Venice, and Verona.
According to the information that could be confirmed from their Instagram profiles, not all of these trips seemed to involve the entire family. For the purpose of this analysis, I did not assume that all family members were present unless they were clearly identifiable through photographs they uploaded to ensure that flight ticket prices are calculated at the barest minimum.
This website estimates that the flights for all these trips alone, even when going for the most conservative estimate with the cheapest possible tickets for each flight, cost at least €16,596. Photos of trips in which any member of the Muscat family seemed like they were traveling for work or school purposes were discarded to ensure that only holidays are considered in the estimate.
In reality, the amount of money that was actually spent on these trips cannot be known unless Muscat comes forward to explain how, in two years, he paid for more holidays than most people will ever get to experience in their whole lives. Questions have been sent to Muscat in writing. No answer was forthcoming by time of publication.
Having said that, given the extensive review that this website carried out on the family’s Instagram profiles, insights can nonetheless be gleaned through the photos that they posted.
Towards the beginning of last year, the Muscat family attended a concert performed by Louis Tomlinson in Milan and a Billie Eilish concert in Zurich. They were also present for a football match held at the San Siro Stadium a few months later.
As for 2023, the Muscats decided to live it up a bit more. They attended another three concerts by world-famous artists: Harry Styles, Coldplay, and ABBA.
Perhaps the most significant splurge the Muscats posted about was their trip to Morocco in July. The Muscats spent some time at two high-end resorts in Marrakesh – the Fairmont Royal Palm hotel and the Agafay Luxury Camp just outside that same city. While the length of their stay and the details of their bookings could not be verified, a look at the cheapest possible prices offered by these two resorts is quite telling.
The cheapest price I could find for a room at the Fairmont for a five night stay for four persons would set you back €3,256, while the cheapest five night stay at Agafay would cost you €1,142.
Following their holiday in Marrakesh, the Muscat family casually tied up their summer adventures with a stay in Greece the following month and a visit to London just two months later. Their latest escapade towards the end of October saw them travel to Italy yet again for another football match held at San Siro.