Wall Street is abuzz about an intriguing merger proposition: A "spectacularly beautiful" 25-year-old woman placed an ad on Craigslist seeking a husband who makes at least $500,000 a year.
The mystery woman -- under ad number 431649184 -- said "$250,000 won't get me into Central Park West," where one apartment recently sold for $42.4 million, the highest price ever paid for a condo in New York City.
It wasn't her audacious proposition that sent traders rolling with laughter in the pits but the witty response fired back by someone claiming to be an investment banker who said he fit the bill.
"It's a crappy business deal," he wrote.
"What you suggest is a simple trade: You bring your looks to the party, and I bring my money," he reasoned. "But in economic terms, you are a depreciating asset, and I am an earning asset. ... Your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity."
"You're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next five years but less so each year," he added. "Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!"
The e-mail exchange was forwarded around the financial district faster than insider information on a hot deal.
"Everyone on Wall Street got it," said a spokesman in the investment banking division of JPMorganChase, where the pithy response was first thought to originate.
The incident caused a massive headache for the public relations department at the financial giant, which warded off calls from reporters about the identity of the alleged author. It turns out the young employee at the New York investment bank had just forwarded the e-mail to his friends, without noticing his electronic signature, and it wound up on all the blogs.
"I feel terrible for the kid," said 30-year-old banker Kevin, who was downing a quick burrito at Chipotle around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. "He got the e-mail just like the rest of us."
The original ad appears to be legitimate, according to Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist.
"I don't see any evidence that this ad was anything other than sincere," said Buckmaster, who said the ad was first posted Sept. 25. "Although you never know."
The witty exchange struck a chord in Kevin, whose eventual income might lure such a husband hunter.
"It was a perfect response," said Kevin. "It was a classic reaction to a gold digger."
His slightly older tablemate agreed but said gold diggers on Wall Street were nothing new.
"Back in the day, they'd go to the World Trade Center and hang out at Moran's," said David, 37. "They'd come in three or four at a time and buzz the whole crowd. All the traders had a certain look, and they'd start to introduce themselves."
Still, Kevin said he was "shocked and appalled" at the woman's brazen approach. "It's sickening that a person would only look for rich men. Find your own job and earn your own living!"
The husband hunter defended her direct approach.
"Please hold your insults -- I'm putting myself out there in an honest way," she wrote. "Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being upfront about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kinds of guys if I wasn't able to match them -- in looks, culture, sophistication and keeping a nice home and hearth."