A 25 year-old woman who advertised for a husband earning at least $500,000 a year in New York failed to get her hoped-for response from one reader.
A Central Park address was an essential part of the "bargain"
The woman, who described herself as "spectacularly beautiful", also asked for names of bars and restaurants frequented by "single rich men".
But one reply claimed that her offer was a bad "business deal".
The unknown correspondent argued that the advertiser's main "assets" would "depreciate" sharply over time.
It remains unclear whether the advert - let alone the response - is genuine, or a spoof.
In the original ad, posted on the personals website Craigslist.com, the author claimed an income of $250,000 a year wasn't large enough to "get her" to Central Park West, one of New York's most desirable residential neighbourhoods.
The response, also posted on Craigslist, said this amounted to a pitch for a "simple trade" in which "you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money".
The reply's writer - who said his income topped $500,000 a year - claimed his earnings would appreciate significantly during the lifetime of a marriage.
But he went on to say the proposal was not "efficient" in a pure financial sense since "your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity".
The exchange, which has been spread by e-mail and read by thousands of people, sparked an intense cyber-debate about who had written the response.
It appeared to be signed by an employee of the investment banking arm of US bank JP Morgan Chase.
But a company spokesman told the New York Times that the individual concerned had not written the posting.
His signature had appeared beneath the reply because he had forwarded an e-mail message with a link to the posting to friends, it added.
One financial journalist said the real identity of the responder was unlikely to emerge if he actually worked on Wall Street.
"In the age of ultra-sensitivity to sexual harassment, people might think that this guy's response about women being depreciating assets is not exactly how they want their firm to be perceived by the public," said John Carney, editor of Dealbreaker.com.