The would-be benefactor, Pippo Giuffrè, was hoping to donate the money to the new Giovanni Paolo II hospital.
However, when he went to meet the general manager of the regional health authority, Maurizio Aricò, in order make the donation, he was put in a waiting room while the health authority's lawyer was sent for.
Not happy with being made to wait, Giuffrè slipped out the back door.
“The lawyer was only in the courtrooms, just 700 meters away, but by the time he arrived Giuffrè was gone,” Aricò told La Repubblica.
But Giuffrè's lawyer, Michele Sbezzi, told a different side to the story.
“We were made to wait in a boiling hot waiting room for a long time, until my client decided enough was enough and he wanted to leave.”
The lost donation has caused considerable embarrassment to the regional health authority.
The money would have been a welcome boost to their less than healthy coffers, and would have allowed them to buy new equipment for the hospital.
The president of the local health commission, Pippo Digiacomo, told Il Fatto Quotidiano he was mortified by the incident and apologized.
“I'm sure it's all just a simple misunderstanding, which can be worked out,” he added.
But Giuffè's lawyer seemed to think otherwise, suggesting that the rich benefactor had undergone a change of heart following the incident.
“I don't think he still plans to donate to the hospital,” he said. “But I'm sure the money will be donated, just maybe in different ways.”
Giuffrè emigrated from Ragusa to New York in 1953 and made his fortune selling cars.
Since then he has often returned home and is involved in many charitable projects throughout the city.