An ongoing battle between Mark Zuckerberg and a real estate developer is getting nastier—and a little weird. Developer Mircea Voskerician, who is suing the Facebook founder, says a Zuckerberg-hired private detective tried to intimidate a friend of Voskerician's and witness in the suit, Bloomberg reports. The lawsuit hinges on Voskerician's agreement to sell Zuckerberg rights to land beside Zuckerberg's home in Palo Alto, Calif., as the Internet mogul was snapping up $39 million in neighboring properties. Zuckerberg bought the rights, but Voskerician's lawsuit claims that Zuckerberg reneged on his promise to introduce the developer to Silicon Valley bigwigs associated with Apple, Facebook, and Google, the New York Times reported in March.
Zuckerberg's private eye allegedly harassed Voskerician friend James Sagorac while investigating the suit: "I feel that my family and my girlfriend have been contacted in an effort to slander me and to intimidate me from testifying in this case," says Sagorac in a court filing. Sagorac's role: He claims to have fielded a $4.3 million offer for the property, which Voskerician sold to Zuckerberg at a "discount" price of $1.7 million. Now Zuckerberg's lawyers say they have sourced Sagorac's reported offer to a lawyer in South Africa who claims to be representing an African prince. The lawyer wouldn't name the prince, but showed interest in a possible financial settlement, and "expressed disappointment and disapproval" when told "no payoff was in the works," the filing says. Click to read more about the Zuckerberg legal battle.