THE price was 36 million ($76 million).
It was not even the price for the mansion, but a mere 10 per cent deposit for the sprawling house on the French Riviera, considered to be the most expensive house in the world.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the world's 24th richest man, gladly paid for it.
But when the global financial crisis hit in 2008, he was forced to back out of the deal.
When the 44-year-old tried to get his money back, the French court ruled against him, the Daily Mail reported.
Under French property law, once an initial sale contract has been signed, a deposit can only be refunded during a seven-day "cooling-off" period.
The court also ordered him to pay "1 million ($2.1 million) in interest to the owner, 71-year-oldMrsLily Safra.
The Villa Leopolda in Villefranche- sur-Mer was built for King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902.
In the 1950s, it was purchased by Mr Giovanni Agnelli, owner of Fiat, who later sold it to Mr Edmund Safra, a billionaire banker.
Mrs Safra inherited the villa from her husband after he was murdered by his male nurse in Monaco in 1999.
She said that she would donate the money to 10 charities.
"By transforming the deposit into an act of giving, I would like to encourage all who can do so to support medical research and other humanitarian causes," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
"We have lost," Mr Prokhorov's lawyer Jean-Pierre Gastaud told ABC News in the southern French city of Nice. Mr Gastaud said he would urge his client to appeal. Spectacular
The mansion at the centre of the lawsuit is a spectacular 8ha spread between Nice and Monaco overlooking the Mediterranean.
Fifty gardeners are reportedly needed to tend to the property's manicured gardens and hundreds of lemon, cypress and olive trees.
A representative for the Russian oligarch declined a request to comment, saying that legal proceedings are still ongoing, ABC news reported.
This is not the first time that Mr Prokhorov has appeared before the French courts.
He was arrested in the chic ski resort of Courcheval in 2007 for allegedly arranging up to 20 prostitutes for his guests.
He was released after four days, but only officially cleared of all charges by a court in Lyon, France, last September, the Daily Mail reported.
The French prostitutes scandal is said to have caused "immense damage" to his image in Russia, where he is known for his lavish lifestyle. He was mocked on a Russian TV commercial for his love of travelling the world in a private jet surrounded by beautiful women.
"France occupies a special place in my life. Thanks to France, I have become very popular," he said recently in a business forum in Paris.
Mr Prokhorov made his fortune with his platinum and nickel conglomerate Norilisk, which he sold two years ago.
He is Russia's second richest man with an estimated wealth of US$17.85 billion ($24 billion), according to Finans magazine's annual list of the richest Russians released last month.
He lost his top spot to steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, despite watching his assets grow over US$3.7 billion in the past year.
He now runs the investment fund group Onexim and Russia's largest gold producer Polyus Gold,ABC News reported.
The loss of a "few millions" has not stopped Mr Prokhorov from looking for other things to shop.
An avid basketball fan, he is awaiting approval by the NBA for his purchase of a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets, ABC News added.
This article was first published in The New Paper.