Socialites Claim They Got Tricked into Paying $50k for Finger PaintingS

A finger painting is at the center of an almost half-a-million dollar lawsuit after an Upper East Side couple claims they were tricked by their children's pricey private school into paying $50,000 for a finger painting by kindergartners.

Michelle Heinemann and her investment-banker husband Jon have sued the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine after they won a benefit auction with a bid far higher than they had intended to pay. They are also pulling their son and daughter out of the school, suing for money to relocate their children to a new school, as well as $60,000 to pay for their chauffeur to help bring their children to their new school.

The Heinemann's believe the school rigged the auction by having a first-grade teacher, “Ms. Bryant," drive up the bill to $50,000. Because the Heinemann's were out of town, and had given instructions to a proxy to be the highest bid, they believed the largest possible damage for a finger painting (which are priceless) would fall around $3,000. But Ms. Bryant desperately wanted that finger painting and drove up the price to that ridiculous figure.

“This is essentially a painting done by 5-year-olds,” explained a source to The Post. The Heinemann's son was involved in helping make the piece of art.

The school is standing by the validity of the auction, and have also tried to respond to the Heinemann's concern that their son was being treated improperly by the school.

Reads the lawsuit about little Hudson Cornelius's maltreatment:

“On one occasion, plaintiffs’ 5-year-old son was relegated to the role of ‘door-holder’ and ordered to hold the door for all of the other students.”

Hudson was obviously coming from a place of great pain while working on the piece of art, which is probably why it's so brilliant and wonderfully expensive.

[via Gothamist/Photo by Amber De Vos]