When America's liberal elite were offered the chance to pay up to $500,000 each (about �260,000) to attend Bill Clinton's 60th birthday extravaganza tonight - with the added promise of a private Rolling Stones concert - a packed house was expected.
Wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea sent out about 10,000 invitations to Hollywood tycoons, movie stars, captains of industry and Wall Street - with all proceeds to go to the former President's charitable foundation.
Those who pledged the top price were promised the 'Birthday Chair Package', with the best seating for the concert as well as a chance to have photographs taken with Mr Clinton during a round of golf and a three-day series of cocktail, brunch and dinner parties.
The minimum price, with inferior concert seats and no brunch, was set at $60,000 (�31,000). But with many rich Democrats sending their regrets, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that last Wednesday the Clintons drastically slashed prices to $12,500 (�6,500) for one reception and the concert, or $5,000 (�2,600) for just the Stones.
With the looming possibility of Bill and his long-suffering wife and daughter finding themselves amid a sea of empty chairs at the 2,900-seat Manhattan venue, tickets then went on sale to the public for as little as $1,710 (�900).
A friend of the Clintons said last night: "It is all highly embarrassing for Bill and Hillary. When they created the idea, they thought it would go like wildfire. What's not going to please some who did come up with $500,000 is finding regular Stones fans there who got last-minute tickets on the internet."
Mr Clinton's Press spokesman declined to comment.