Wealthy New York couple say they were tricked into paying $50,000 for kid's finger painting
Michelle Heinemann and her banker husband Jon say their son's exclusive school rigged a fundraising auction and they had expected to bid $3,000
Monday 01 July 2013
New York's well-heeled Upper East Side is agog over a row between a wealthy banker couple and their son's school over a child's finger painting.
Michelle Heinemann, the doyenne of a thousand exclusive gatherings and her husband Jon, an investment banker, are suing their son's school for $415,000 (£272,500).
The couple say they had intended to put in a winning bid for about $3,000 for the painting at a fundraising auction at the school their six-year-old son, Hudson Cornelius Heinemann, attended. But, say the couple, the Cathedral School of St John the Divine rigged the auction, landing them with a bill for $50,000.
"This is essentially a painting done by 5-year-olds," an unnamed source told the New York Post.
The Heinemanns were out of town - perhaps at their seafront mansion in Maine - when the auction occurred, so appointed a "Mrs Bryant", reportedly their son's first year teacher, to be their proxy bidder.
They were told that paintings usually sell for $500 to $1,200 and expected the winning bid to be a maximum of $3,000. But, they say, Mrs Bryant's desperation to get the child's painting landed them with a bill for $50,000.
For its part, the school claims the auction was valid and that the bidding for the painting had been more frenzied than expected. The painting features paper cut-outs of the hands of Hudson Cornelius and his 17 classmates, with each child's answer to the question "how do you feel when you are around art?"
The Heinemanns' lawsuit says they were already unhappy with the school, alleging that their son was "underappreciated", being subject to such indignities as "door holder", when he was ordered to hold the door for all of the other students.
The lawsuit goes on: "Plaintiff’s son was consistently left out of school exhibits and films ... and was made to go last at nearly everything."
The school had allegedly agreed to drop all of Hudson's door-holding duties if the Heinemanns donated $6,000 worth of "designer clothing items" to the auction - and if "renowned artist" Michelle helped to create the fated painting.
The Heinemanns have now withdrawn their son from the school and are suing for costs and compensation, including $20,000 tuition fees for a new school, forfeited class fees for his little sister Hyacinth Cornelia and the salary of Hudson Cornelius's $60,000 a year chauffeur, whose job they want to save.
"The Heinemanns tried to settle this matter without a lawsuit, but the cathedral had no interest in taking responsibility for their actions," the family's spokesman R Couri Hay told the New York Post, while the school was unavailable for comment.
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Ryan Gosling granted temporary restraining order against a woman 'convinced she was his twin flame'
Jennifer Lawrence sings in new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 clip on YouTube
Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...