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This Master Barterer Traded up From a Ferrari to a Pool Party Wristband


Photos (with edits by Jonah Weinbaum) by Karl Baron / CC BY-SA 2.0 and Loco Steve / CC BY-SA 2.0

It started with a lowly Ferrari.

“What can I do with this?” Nursing freshman John Michaels remembers thinking.

He decided to make use of the Penn Bartering Facebook group. Soon after posting his offer of a bright red, nearly brand-new 488 GTB, Michaels received an offer to trade for a Bugatti Veyron from the son of a Russian oligarch who was disappointed by how mainstream the car had become.

“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder how far I can take this?’” Michaels said.

He then traded the Bugatti for a mansion owned by his friend’s uncle, that mansion for a pretty nice apartment in New York, and the apartment for the latitude and longitude coordinates of Tupac’s secret island.

Michaels said he was ecstatic to have traded all the way up to knowledge of the location of a famous musician long presumed to be dead, but that he wanted to make one final trade.

“I knew that if I looked hard enough, I could find something to complete this incredible chain of trades,” he said.

The story of Michaels’ bartering prowess spread through newspaper articles and TV segments, until it reached College junior Jonathan Rosenbaum, who offered Michaels the final exchange: his pool party wristband for the Tupac coordinates.

“I wasn’t going to go to the party anyway, because I was sick, and I didn’t feel like selling the wristband either, so this really worked out,” Rosenbaum said.

The situation was a win-win: Rosenbaum got to meet the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, and Michaels had accomplished what most of us only dream of, trading up from a Ferrari all the way to a pool party wristband.