$16 Million Won, Perelman Friendship Lost: Drapkin

The court victory will bring $16 million and the end of a lawsuit, but hedge fund investor Donald Drapkin told CNBC Tuesday it cost him a long-time friendship.

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“I was best friends with my partner for 25 years. I mourn the loss of that friendship,” the head of Casablanca Capital, said of his former business partner at MacAndrews & Forbes, financier Ron Perelman. Drapkin spoke to CNBC days after a jury found in his favor.

In a case of millionaire against billionaire, Drapkin went to civil court claiming he was owed $16 million in compensation when he left Perelman's company about five years ago.

Perelman, with net worth estimated by Forbes at more than $12 billion, countersued, claiming Drapkin violated his contract when he left, taking confidential company documents on his laptop.

Perelman was unavailable for comment to CNBC.

Drapkin said he feared how the jury would react to “a couple of rich guys” suing each other over what would seem, for Drapkin and Perelman, like couch change.

But he said he's gained “new respect for judges, and the jury really does pay attention and try to understand what is going on.”

It took less than two hours for the jury to decide in Drapkin's favor.

“I had two brilliant lawyers…and they had said to me [when the jury was sequestered at 4 p.m.], if the jury goes back before 5:30, you’re a winner. At 5:26 they announced the jury was coming back,” he said. “That 10 seconds when the judge says, ‘Madame Foreman, have you reached a verdict?,’ my heart was in my throat. I don’t want to do this again.”

—Reuters contributed to this report.