A few weeks ago, we reported about the public break-up between L.A. billionaire Ron Burkle and former president Bill Clinton — Burkle seemed to distance himself from Clinton in a revealing interview with BusinessWeek.

Now the Daily Beast reports that Clinton is firing back, with sources close to the former president telling reporter Kim Masters, among other things, that Burkle is allegedly “stiffing Clinton out of $20 million or $25 million.”

“From Clinton's standpoint,” writes Masters, “Burkle has everything backward. It was

Burkle, the Clinton confidants say, who vastly benefited from Clinton's

contacts. Burkle's life was transformed through the glamour of his

association with Clinton, they say, and from a business standpoint,

Clinton delivered on his promises to Burkle. One says an institutional

investor who met with the former president marveled, “I can't believe

[Burkle] got Clinton to pitch for him.””

The very public and personal spat is a rare occurrence in the world of

high finance.

Billionaires like Burkle usually like to stay out of the press so they can quietly make their zillion-dollar deals and not make investors and stockholders nervous with bad publicity or sudden media scrutiny.

But every now and then Burkle gives an interview, like he did with L.A. Weekly in 2008, and throws himself and, invariably, his business into the middle of a high-profile controversy — few other things are more controversial than holding a public beef with a former president of the United States.

Why the feud has gone so public in recent weeks is anyone's guess, but it's very possible that something that's happening behind the scenes prompted Burkle, who's normally press-shy, to talk so candidly about his relationship with Clinton.

For example, has Clinton been recently putting the squeeze on Burkle to finally pay that $20 million or $25 million, and Burkle decided to take his case to BusinessWeek?

Whatever the reason, neither man show signs of backing down.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly