Thinking of Selling Your Soul? The Value is Right Here!

They say that there are some things you can’t put a value on but I say nonsense!  Everything has a price!  In the business valuation field, we need to stay on top of emerging trends, and this is our way of contributing to the collective knowledge of our profession.

Leading religious sources were quick to respond to today’s announcement. “Huic ignoro quid loquitur. Michael est?” was posted on the Vatican’s official Twitter account. Amish authorities declined to post any response given their long standing position of technical abstinence.

The value of a soul was computed to be $684,603.10 and was determined by applying the acquisition method of the market approach – relying on transactions whereby a soul undergoes a change in control.

For example, the Charlie Daniels song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, chronicles a fiddling contest between the Prince of Darkness and Johnny, a precocious fiddle player.  The bet stakes the Devil’s fiddle made of gold against Johnny’s soul.

The value of a golden fiddle is computed as follows:

A violin has a volume of approximately 2,408 cm3, including 2,300.4 cm3 in the body and 107.8 cm3 in the neck.  We excluded the bow, strings and bridge from our analysis.  Gold has a density of 19.3 grams/cm3, which means a golden fiddle weighs 46.47 kg, or 105 pounds (1,685 troy oz.). The financial impact of rosin was negligible.

The market price of gold (as of March 27, 2014) is $1,313.00/oz. , so 1,685 oz. of gold is $2,212,752.32.

The golden fiddle was assumed to have no goodwill value insofar as it would be too heavy for most people to pick up, let alone play. Lay persons were quick to note that any item granted by Satan would, by definition, have no goodwill.

Other comparable transactions included:

$0.99, the price of a Dunkin Donuts donut where Homer Simpson sold his soul to a demonic Ned Flanders for a pink frosted donut (per Treehouse of Horror IV, 1993).  The transaction was later voided due to the fact that Marge Simpson held a previous lien on Homer Simpson’s soul.  Surprisingly, no complaint of fraudulent conveyance was filed.

$5.00, the price paid by Millhouse Van Houten in The Simpsons’ Bart Sells His Soul, Season 7, Episode 4.  This was an all-cash transaction.

$100,005.61 – The estimated price of 5 plastic surgeries and wardrobe makeovers from wishes used by Elliot Richards in the 2000 re-make of the 1967 classic, Bedazzled.  The 7th wish was not used for material gain and, in fact, nullified the contract. The $5.61 is the average 2014 price of a Big Mac and Coke in the United States.

$10.81 – the price for the Black Sabbath compilation album compact disc, We Sold our Soul for Rock and Roll, on, with Prime Membership (free shipping).

$2,702,607.23 – the pretax income of 10 years of earnings in the top 1% of US households ($350,000 per year), discounted at a rate of 5% required return on capital, per the deal of “10 years of prosperity” in Steven Vincent Benet’s, The Devil and Daniel Webster.

$233,142.86 – the estimated value per soul based on the price paid in the Star Trek: Next Generation episode, Devil’s Due (1991).  In that episode, the planet Ventax II sold its collective souls to their “devil”, named Ardra, in exchanged for 1,000 years of prosperity.  Assuming that Ventax II is similar to Earth in value and population, we took the Earth’s average annual GDP of 48 trillion dollars and capitalized that value using the Gordon Growth Model, at a sustainable growth rate of 2% and a risk-free rate of 5%.  Thus, the planetary value of $1,632 trillion (or $1.6 quadrillion) divided by a population of 7 billion produces a per-soul value of $233,142.86.

$228,300.17 – the full postseason share for the winner of the National League pennant in 2013 (but did not win the World Series).  This is based on the price paid for Joe Boyd’s soul in the Broadway play and novel Damn Yankees when Boyd sold Asmodeus (“Mr. Applegate) the rights to his soul in exchange for helping the previously hapless Washington Senators defeat the New York Yankees for the American League Pennant (now called the Championship Series) in the 1950’s.

As you can see, souls have been priced in numerous transactions in music and literature, with an average price of $684,603.10 and a median price of $164,152.90.  The average price is probably a more reliable number here.  When you think about it, souls have an indefinite useful remaining life, they don’t depreciate, and the market clearly indicates that they can be transferred.  The fact that they are quite valuable makes sense.  What we still can’t get our heads around is whether there may be synergistic considerations in this acquisitions.

Naturally, markets can fluctuate.  You do have to factor in whether there are distressed market conditions or some sort of soul bubble is out there.  And there is the little matter that the soul market is a monopsony.  But this is as reasonable a starting point as any.

Of course, one needn’t sell one’s soul to transact with the Devil…  For example, instead of selling your soul to the Devil, you might simply Shout at the Devil for $7.99.  Or you might watch the New Jersey Devils next time you’re in the New York area in wintertime – tickets start at $28.00.    Or, you might try some deviled ham for $2.33 per can, or make a devil’s food cake for $1-$2 of ingredients and a couple of hours’ time.   Maybe instead, you would feel like doing battle with the Devil – Diablo III is around $40 ($80 if you buy the expansion pack).  Or learn to dress like the Devil for $2.99.  Or read about the Devil for free (the copyright ran out centuries ago!)

Happy April Fool’s Day!