Param Sharma is just a normal 17-year-old living in California’s Bay Area. But on the internet, he’s known as Lavish—the disgustingly rich brat who goads celebrities like Rihanna and Soulja Boy into pissing matches on social media with scathing insults. He flaunts his apparent big bucks on Instagram, where he has nearly a quarter of a million followers. He’s attained internet fame by taking pics of himself doing everything from throwing away thousands of dollars by tying cash to balloons, hosting cash sweepstakes, pouring Pellegrino down the toilet, and rocking two pairs of trendy True Religions at the same time.
The media has been having a field day trying to figure out if the first-generation American is the heir to a great fortune earned by his Indian parents, or if he is just a goofball with too much time on his hands. Some believe his mom is Shikha Sharma, CEO of Axis Bank, or Anu Sharma, a Bay Area marketing consultant. These conclusions seem laughable, especially considering Axis Bank released a official statement debunking Param's potential relation to their CEO and threatened to take legal recourse. But whatever. I could care less if Lavish is the real deal or not. As long as he keeps pissing on celebrities like Kim Kardashian, he can be whoever he wants to be.
To get inside the mind of the kid who who has become a huge pain in the ass to smug celebutants, I gave Lavish a call. Here’s what the little twerp had to say for himself.
VICE: What’s life like for Lavish?
Lavish: I wake up, shower, make sure my nails look good, get dressed, and get a ride to school. I’m always checking stocks throughout the day, but otherwise things are normal. After school I get a massage, kick it with friends. Nothing too crazy. I shop on Saturdays.
You follow the stock market?
I started this year. In 2012 I invested heavily in Apple, since I predicted the iPhone 5 would shoot up. And it went up a couple hundred. I bought a lot of shares and I made over 300,000 in profit.
You’re almost 18. Do you have any college aspirations?
I wanted to go to Princeton, but it depends. I’m planning on shooting something off with my whole online persona. If I play my cards right, I can start my own venture based off my following. If I start earning well before summer ends and it’s looking up, I’ll skip college. Think about Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, they just got up and left and started their own companies, look where they are now.
How’d your family come into their fortune? Oil? Banking?
They're definitely not in the oil business. I can tell you that, but we prefer to not comment on it because of their reputation.
I checked out your site, although the coding is fairly simple, you took the added precaution of registering your domain via proxy. Why is that?
It's not impressive. I’m looking to hire someone. It’s something that I whipped up quickly. Have you seen my website?
Good. That’s my official site.
There’s an unofficial site?
Yeah. When I was becoming popular, someone purchased the domain Itslavishbitch.com. He bought it for 25 bucks and he tried to sell an eBook by stealing my identity and handle. At first, when he bought it, he tried to sell it to me for ten grand. I didn’t take it seriously and he raised the price to $25,000.
Now the domain account is suspended. Why?
We talked to our lawyers, and since he stopped selling the eBook using my name, he’s not doing anything illegal. People were thinking I was a fake because I was selling an eBook. But I wasn’t.
Some people find it odd that you’re interacting with the so called “serfs and peasants” online rather than living your own life. Is the Lavish persona detached from reality?
Yes, I have a private Instagram under a different name that's used to keep up with my friends. That’s my main one. You might notice that there’s nobody in my pictures except me. I don’t want my girlfriend or my friends being subjected to that attention.
I can’t relate to the plight of affluence.
I'm the most popular kid at my school. People are always pestering me to advertise them on the internet.
There are Tumblrs, Twitters, and Instagrams dedicated to “exposing Lavish.” That’s crazy.
It’s hilarious. I don’t pay attention to comments, but I’ve seen those pages. I look at them and shake my head. It’s crazy the amount of time people have to bring me down. But it feels good because it lets me know that there are people out there obsessing over me. The more they hate, the more famous I’m getting. And you’ll notice I’ll never mention the word “hater," because if I let them know I liked that, they would stop. It's like how Ray J released a song called "I Hit It First?" And did you notice how Kanye and Kim just ignored the whole situation? Celebrities shouldn't really lash out. People are more interested when they don’t say anything. It makes you look professional.
You’ve managed to get under the skin of some famous people. Can you tell me about your thing with Rihanna?
Rihanna was an exception. I only do it to people that are big and worth my time. It started with the “2 trues” picture? It’s the one of me wearing two pairs of True Religions jeans. It was a social experiment that I came up with. Me and my friends laughed at it and I posted it. Are you familiar with the Bay and the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit]?
So I thought it'd be funny if I went on the BART wearing that, it led to someone getting a picture of me and the picture went viral. Four weeks later I see a picture of Rihanna wearing two jeans. When I confronted her about it she blocked me on Instagram. She blocked me and she took my style. It’s weird to know that she stole my style and when I called her out she blocked me. How I know she definitely copied me is because she put a comment up saying that I looked like a fool. So she noticed my style and then later on she called it her style. I was angry for like an hour, but I got over it.
Do you think part of your appeal lies in the fact that the people want to see wealthy people act the way you do.
There are several reasons. As you said people find entertainment in it because it's how they think rich people behave. People feed off the crazy things I do, like pooping in sparkling water. I’m using wealth as comedy. They see these things and they find it funny since they don’t do it on an average day—like my $2,000 receipt that said “economical meal.” That’s funny to them because they think two grand is a lot of cash for a lunch. It’s nothing to me. And there’s humor in that.
You give away a lot of money, and people doubt its legitimacy. Can you shed some light as to how you choose the winners?
All the comments are fed onto my computer and I highlight all the usernames and then randomize them, then pick one. With the past winner, I went to his page, swapped contact info with him and then we went to the bank and pulled out the money. My American Express Black card has a 250,000 dollar limit.
How much cash have you given away so far?
I think we’re breaking about 100 thousand.
Many people claim that all the money is counterfeit because of similar serial numbers. What do you have to say to that?
If the money were counterfeit I assure you government agencies would have something to say about it. I don’t think most people understand this or not, but when you take out large sums of money from your bank account they're generally newly minted. You'll notice the serial numbers are ordered and are only one or two digits off from each other.
Seems a little fishy to me.
I don't know. I uploaded a YouTube video of me counting thousands in cash and every serial number was different. I was in a bank. How can I have counterfeit money in a bank?
For being so wealthy, your taste screams middle class, minus the sports cars.
I buy a lot of Viktor & Rolf, Hermès, and stuff like that. But it's not relatable. So,I upload stuff that peasants can associate with, like Polo and Louis Vuitton. I try to do things that serfs can relate to.
When is the jig up?
Never. I want my son to take over “Lavish.”
God help us.
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