BALTIMORE – Tony Bennett (search) is demanding that the organizers of a recent concert refund $15,000 to a man who bid that amount in a charity auction, expecting to eat dinner with the singer, Bennett's manager said Wednesday.
Gary Pusateri placed the winning bid on a package that said it included "dinner with Tony Bennett" after the concert last weekend, which raised money for ALS research at Johns Hopkins Hospital (search).
Pusateri, 52, thought he would dine alongside Bennett at a downtown Italian eatery.
Instead, Pusateri and more than 100 others got to shake Bennett's hand in the same restaurant. And when it came time to eat, the retired computer analyst from Washington ate on the second floor, while the singer dined with his guests on the first floor.
"It was a big disappointment," Pusateri said. "I really wanted to be with him. That's why I bid extra."
Danny Bennett, the singer's son and manager, said in a statement that "the decision to auction off a post-show dinner with the singer was made without Mr. Bennett's approval or knowledge."
Pusateri's bid went to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research (search) at Johns Hopkins.
"There are ongoing discussions with how to redress the situation," Gary Stevenson, a Hopkins spokesman, said Wednesday evening. "It was not the intention to mislead anyone."
Stevenson said the script given to the auctioneer was worded improperly, leading to the confusion. He said Hopkins officials hoped to announce Thursday a way to "resolve the issue."
"I think everybody feels really badly about it. Here was this man making this fine, generous gesture, and we're very sorry that the situation turned out to disappoint him," Stevenson said.
Mary Ann Cricchio, owner of Da Mimmo in Little Italy, said there was no intent to mislead the bidders, even as the bids began to skyrocket.
"That scared me," she said. "And that really made me think people thought they were going to be sitting right next to him."
Cricchio organized the dinner in memory of her late husband, Domenico "Mimmo" Cricchio, a friend of Bennett's.