Lessons Learned About Celebrity Worship From Buying Soccer Star Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s Ferrari

Only buy things you don’t have to tell people about

 

Gorilla communities have one alpha male that rules supreme (“The Naked Ape“)

To the rest of the group he basically is a god. And God help irreverents.

Hence, individuals lacking the god reverence gene would be propagationally challenged.

morris

Humans have by and large kept the god gene since the split-off 6  million years ago. Society however has changed. Without an absolute ruler physically present, many choose to believe in some outerworldly ruler instead – God.

No serious scientist would accept phenomena that can’t be measured, since it would be impractical. Still many scientists believe in God. That’s how strong the urge to fill the void from the original alpha gorilla is.

 

In parallel fashion, during humanity’s formative years, a typical society could only sustain 200 people

All of those were important and very well known, essentially VIPs and celebrities. To this day a typical human being can only keep close track of 200 important people, and also make sure we fill that quota. Thus we find one supreme ruler, like an emperor or God, and 200 close friends and celebrities. Due to today’s isolated city life, combined with 24/7 celebrity coverage, celebrities can seem more important than friends and family. It’s ingenious how various rulers intuitively have exploited this trait for power or money:

The catholic church and the pope, communists outlawing religion to make room for themselves at the very top. Then there is Hollywood, American Idol and reality shows replacing the village community, enabling sales of records, clothes and other stuff. Rather than revering an inherited family car or watch, many are willing to pay through their teeth for anything with even the slightest association with an A list celebrity. Weird, really, and not just a little funny.

 

The Voight effect – stardom rub-off

In one episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza is excited over buying Jon Voight‘s old car. Jerry later finds out it wasn’t Angelina Jolie’s father but another Voight, namely the completely unknown John Voight, completely ruining George’s experience of driving a celebrity car.

George Costanza in a Voight car 

Back in 2005, I bought a Ferrari 360 spider (convertible) from the world’s fourth greatest soccer player, Zlatan Ibrahimovich (highest paid player in Series A in 2011, During his 12 years as a professional player in Europe Zlatan won the series 10 times with six different teams. His transfer to Barcelona in 2009 was the fourth highest ever at 69m EUR. In 2013 he was ranked 4:th in the world. In 2014 he was the third highest paid soccer player with 40m USD). I, however, hardly knew who he was – and when I heard it was his car, I was more concerned whether he had taken good care of it than I was excited (Zlatan grew up in arguably the worst suburb in Sweden).

Sprezzaturian's Ferrari

Sprezzaturian’s Ferrari (previously Zlatan’s)

 

Zlatan was flattered

My friend’s promptly told me who Zlatan was and said I should ask for a souvenir. I did and soon got the answer from the dealer that Zlatan had signed a match shirt and sent by express package directly to me. The dealer also said that Zlatan actually was “a bit excited that the buyer (me) wanted his shirt and autograph and wasn’t at all bothered – rather flattered“. OK, that was an interesting turn of events. Some kind of reverse celebrity psychology. With time I still appreciated the effect the story had on other people, because it made Zlatan’s greatness rub off on me. Anyway, after this episode, I felt cheated on the shirt (it never arrived), and increasingly annoyed as the years passed by and Zlatan’s star grew ever brighter. I’m not proud of it; I felt cheated on a shirt from a person I had hardly heard about. The celebrity effect at work.

 

FACT: A second hand super sports car will permanently

set you back 15% per year of its cash price.

A 100 000 dollar car actually costs you

15 000 per year in petrol, insurance, price fall, maintenance etc.

 

Driving the Ferrari convertible added positively to my life during the three years I kept it. In short, it made me happy. The Zlatan story was, however, marginal, whereas track racing, accelerating/braking and speeding were magical – in particular in tunnels. The sound of Ferrari’s V8 going past a certain rpm in an enclosed space, combined with he rush of air (top down, always) and tunnel light flickering past like in a spaceship, was pure joy.

Doing this uncontrolled and most involuntary full 360 spin at 110 mph was one of the best experiences I had in that car:

I originally upgraded to the Ferrari, from my Porsche convertible, after seeing a beautiful Ferrari 360 cruise leisurely through Stockholm city one too many times. At the end I even started feeling slightly ashamed, “just” driving a Porsche when I could drive a Ferrari. Typical second-hander thinking. Low self-esteem. I think I had just as many happy moments and memories in the Porsche as I did in the Ferrari at five times the cost. Thus, in retrospect it was quite a lousy “upgrade”. And then I made the same mistake again – just worse:

 

Lunch break Lamborghini

During a lunch break with a junior colleague I walked past a Lamborghini dealer and bought a bright yellow (“Midas gialli”) Gallardo convertible. Of course I coveted it and had done for some while, but part of the decision was based on impressing my colleague and my friends. And remember, I still owned Zlatan’s Ferrari.

It took about a month to get rid of the redundant set of wheels and focus on the Lambo. It really was an amazing machine; faster, easier to handle, 30% bigger engine, futuristic design and not least a much newer model to impress people with. The first two years were as good as with the Ferrari, but then I lost interest in driving, in track racing, and eventually in other people’s opinions and living a second-hander’s life (vicariously). Nevertheless I drove it for one more season and then put it up for sale.

This time it took more than a month. First the dealer went bankrupt, then the market for second hand Lambos crashed. It took three years to sell. The final selling price was almost 100 000 USD less than the dealer first thought I could get for it.

Thinking back, I think my best time was with my first car, a red BMW with a crappy cooler, that cost me a tenth of what the Porsche cost and close to a hundredth of the list price for the Gallardo. In terms of cost of ownership the difference was even greater. Back then I didn’t spend one second on what anybody else might think. After a 15 year round trip, I’ve finally returned to that blissful state of independence and integrity. I  have finally learned my lessons regarding conspicuous consumption and living vicariously:

  • Focus on what makes you happy and what you think is fun

  • Flash and glamour have very little worth

  • Beautiful cars look better from the outside

  • The cost is ridiculous at 15% per year of the car’s cash price

  • Before any purchase, stop yourself if any part of the consideration is telling others about it

 

 

Sprezzaturian's Lamborghini

Sprezzaturian’s Lamborghini

Super car ownership facts:

FERRARI 360 SPIDER (8.20 USD/mile or a total cost of ownership per year of 15% of the cash price)

Actual sales price, first sale around July 2003: 1 795 000 SEK (260k USD)
Price drop the first 22 months: 470 000 SEK (-26%, -68k)

Price: my second-hand price, May 17, 2005: 1 325 000 SEK (192k)
Maintenance due to track racing: 54 315 SEK (brake discs, clutch, tires etc; 7 872 USD)
Annual services, 2006, 2007, 2008: 54 350 SEK (30 500+10 500+8850; 7 877 USD)
Parking, garage 36 months: 71 000 SEK (10k)
Insurance: 75 261 SEK (11k)
Gas, petrol: 47 939 SEK (6 948 USD)

Price drop (May 17, 2008): 285 000 SEK (21,5% of what I paid for the car; -41k)
Sales price, gross: 1 095 000 SEK (based on estimated sales commission)
Sales provision: 55 000 SEK (No info, but let’s say 5% of sales price)
Sales price net: 1 040 000 SEK (I sold it on a net price basis; 150 725 USD)
Sales costs: 0 SEK (immediate sale, no extra costs)
Net, net sales price: 1 040 000 SEK (78.5% of what I paid, i.e., a 21.5% loss)

Total cash cost 2005-2008, exactly 36 months: 587 865 SEK (85 198 USD; 44,4% of what I paid for the car, or half the percentage loss compared to my Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder)

Since I drove 16 760 km (10 416 miles) my cost per 10 km was 351 SEK, or 8.2 USD per mile. About a third of what my Lamborghini cost.

 

LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO SPYDER (22.50 USD/mile or a total cost of ownership per year of 15% of the cash price)

Actual sales price, first sale in July 2006: 2 120 000 SEK (308k USD)
Price drop the first 18 months: 680 000 SEK (-32%)

Price: my second-hand price, April 1, 2008: 1 440 000 SEK (208 700 USD)
Maintenance due to track racing: 184 851 SEK (27k USD; clutch, brakes, tires, re-cond etc)
Service, 30 000km = 20 000 miles: 35 895 SEK (5200 USD)
Parking, garage: 66 055 SEK (9600 USD)
Insurance: 135 263 SEK (19600 USD)
Gas, petrol: 37 676 SEK (5500 USD)

Price drop (May 21, 2014): 690 000 SEK (48% of what I paid for the car)
Sales price, gross: 750 000 SEK (109 000 USD)
Sales provision: 75 000 SEK (10% of sales price)
Sales price net: 675 000 SEK
Sales costs: 45 000 SEK (garage, insurance)
Net, net sales price: 630 000 SEK (91 437 USD, 44% of what I paid, i.e., a 56% drop)

Total cash cost 2008-2014: 1 269 740 SEK (184 287 USD; 88% of what I paid for the car)

Since I drove 13 172 km (8 186 miles) my cost per 10 km was 964 SEK, or 22.5 USD per mile. Think about that the next time you se a sports car cruise by…

However, if you would have bought the car from me directly, without middle men, you would only have paid 91 437 USD in May 2014, and your price drop over a handful of years would almost certainly be less than half of that – perhaps 10k USD per year. If you have your own garage, cheap or no insurance and don’t drive on race tracks, you would only pay for gas (1/2 gallon per 10 kilometers, or 12 miles per gallon) and the occasional service and maintenance.

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11 Comments

  1. Interesting article and some good lessons to boot.

    I had been quietly following your articles on the alwaysbebrucewayne bloodspot for a while now since Mike first mentioned you, are you no longer updating that site and concentrating on this one full time now?

    Secondly, what i wanted to ask was how did you make the mindset shift to being in (possession of) money?

    There’s an article james altucher wrote about when a person comes into a lot of money (in his case through business ‘events’) that they should among other things, spend at least a year without changing their lifestyle, and not lend money to old friends, giving themselves time to acclimate to the change that a sudden shift in wealth brings. (for reference: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2010/11/what-do-you-do-after-you-make-a-zillion-dollars/)

    Just wondered what your thoughts were on that, considering you of course made money on a more consistent basis and over a longer period of time.

    Thanks.

    Anon1

    • 1) Yes that’s correct I’m moving here permanently. Don’t expect too much of a change. It has more to do with owning my own name and domain than anything else

      2) When I turned 15 I started getting an allowance of around 100 USD/month for clothes, martial arts lessons, snacks etc. It stayed that way until I turned 18 and got an award from the King of Sweden, including 5000 USD. I spent half of it on a laptop (in 1990) and bought stocks for the rest. During my finance studies I took the maximum student loan, which was 1000 USD/month. I spent exactly half on books, food and transportation and invested the rest in stocks. When I started working in 1994 my wage was 2000 USD/month before taxes (1500 after), which for me was a fortune. I spent 200 on rent and the rest on food and mainly partying. What I had invested and saved during finance school I lent to my father for back taxes. Three years later my salary had increased to 5000 USD/month (2500 after taxes) and I received a 100 000 USD year end bonus (50 000 after taxes). By then, however I had become more tight fisted, fitness oriented and not partying as often as before. I had no inclination whatsoever on buying expensive stuff or such. However, I kept lending money to my father. After that it was all very gradual with 100k bonus turning into 300k, the odd 500k stock market capital gain and then my career as a hedge fund manager between 2000-2015. I kept lending money to family and close friends but with good interest so no charity.

      It wasn’t until 2006 that money really started pouring in to the tune of 1-2 mUSD/year after taxes in dividends and by then I was already used to having enough. Sure, I made some half-stupid car and watch purchases, not to mention unnecessarily expensive vacations (but never more than 15k USD for two weeks so never full retard), but I didn’t really WASTE money or lose control. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t have a strategy. Coming into money gradually probably explains why I didn’t go wild with it.

      • Thanks very much for your reply Mikael.

        Its interesting to read from a persons perspective that has the credibility to explain some of these points from experience.

        Most blogs are run by people who are trying to tell people ‘make money’ without having that little prerequisite of them having made money in the first place (i.e. making money on ‘i will teach you to be rich’ by selling books on how to get rich).

        You made an interesting point though, that another one of mike’s contemporaries (for reference: http://wallstreetplayboys.com/2014-blog-review-and-2015-outlook/) made regarding that of motivation.

        From what it sounds like you didn’t have a strategy from the outset for how to deal with wealth or make it, but that by getting used to having enough, you found that sweet spot where you remained in control, and weren’t wasteful, but still had a splurge every now and then.

        Do you think thats a question of personal discipline or because it was a step by step process for you to ‘ascend the mountain’ so to speak?

        brief second question: Do you miss the hunger of earlier days? I’m still in that ascending phase and i don’t know, having a stupidly big goal gives me a reason to get up in the morning

        Thanks,

        • I just read the WSPB post and I couldn’t agree more on what they said about motivation. Well put.

          I’ve never had a strategy and I still don’t. Well, if anything, right now is the closest I’ve been to something similar to a long term strategy: I won’t do any work and I will try to whip up some interest for my perspective on life. And I will do this for quite some time. Does that count? My success will be counted in page views and subs, not titles or money.

          When I was 6-7 years old, I got my first weekly allowance. It was about 50 cents a week. I saved it all up for several weeks or months even, and then went to the store and spent it all at once (on flashlights, rubber bands, candy, whatever there was to get in the late 70’s. Yes, in Sweden at that time there was nothing odd with me going to the store by myself). I still exhibited the same pattern when I was 10-12 and I still spent it on candy… but on computer games and computer magazines, modems etc as well.

          However, sometime before I turned 13 something happened, and I started lending my surplus instead of spending it. I hung out at the school cafeteria in 7th grade and lent 50c for the purchase of a danish and demanded only the 50c back the next day, but 10c fee for every additional day’s delay. With time and volume it turned out to be a decent business (frauds and bad loans were part of the business and more than covered by the steep fees). I think actually working for the money made me realize its worth and stopped my splurges. Since then, I’ve never held back at “investments”, e.g., in books for school or privately, in life experiences like travel and in work clothes like suits and shirts, but I’ve all but given up on useless conspicuous consumption (…. but with ENOUGH money on my hands I still couldn’t help buying a gold Hublot, three sports cars (cash), as well as my penthouse apartment in the absolute center of Stockholm – also cash only. I lend, I don’t borrow).

          I think I was just lucky actually. I earned my real money quite late (between 35-40) and I worked very, very hard for it, and I had worked even harder the ten years before that. Thanks to that I had matured and I had learned that I never, ever wanted to just lose that hard earned cash if I didn’t get anything for it. I could have easily ended up as a greedy, tight-fisted Mr Scrooge, but fortunately I realized that I can always spend 0.01% of my wealth on stuff that are just fun for the moment. Since that’s still a thousand dollars, my bar nights can be wild sometimes despite my usual frugality

          HUNGER
          Oh, I have hunger, more now than ever. I’m hungry for knowledge, for fun, for cuddling with my dog, for experiencing life. And now nothing can hold me back. I was never hungry for career or money. I just kept being “discovered” and stumbled upward in the financial food chain – probably thanks to my lateral thinking/living and wide field of interests, as well as knowing a bit about computers, businesses, math, statistics, technology. But hunger never drove me.

          Big goals never worked for me in any area of life. The only goal that has ever triggered me is “just one more”: one more second on the tread mill, one more rep with the biceps bar, one more set squats, bench or deadlifts, one more month at work, one more liter of milk (quart) after the gym, just one christmas present this year, ok just one more… I couldn’t handle two, but one works fine (and one can turn into 10 million. the ones add up when you do just one more)

          Thanks for reading

          • Fantastic and fascinating reply Mikael. and that’s a very interesting point regarding methodology. The idea of ‘just one more’ being turned upside down from its usual place (people say just one more when they’re bingeing on cookies!) to become a whole way of approaching things. continual progressive load.

            Also it sounds like you had a good experience pivoting skills from one area and frame of reference to another. Keeps things adaptable.

            I think there is a need to have some level of spontaneity (as you mentioned with the 0.01% splurging now and again), and it almost sounds like you did a positive random walk of sorts upwards through your career and beyond. Stepping left and right every so often but with the trend growing upwards at great pace.

            Definitely gave me food for thought, and i look forward to reading your future articles (have got the one on lateral living open in another tab to read right after this!)

            best

  2. I read the Naked Ape when I was 21.

    “That’s how strong the urge to fill the void from the original alpha gorilla is.”

    –> Something to remind oneself of.

    “Anyway, after this episode, I felt cheated on the shirt (it never arrived)”

    –>Haha!

    Also, that Seinfeld episode on “the Voight effect” is genius. That’s how comedy should be done.

    Nice to see you’ve got your new site up. I look forward to reading your eBook and seeing where you take this site.

    • It’s crazy and embarrassing to want a used and tagged shirt from a guy you’ve hardly heard about, just because a colleague says he’s famous…

      I mean, wtf?!

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