A liberal arts professor who moonlighted as a thief reportedly swiped a huge haul of valuables from his lover and her friends.
79-year-old Lawrence Gray made headlines as he appeared in a Manhattan court on Tuesday after surrendering to authorities, to face charges for stealing at least $1 million worth of jewelry and art from homes in five states.
The alleged thefts took place in residences where Gray had been invited to weddings or fundraisers, with some homeowners even receiving a thank-you note from the conman.
Prosecutors accused Gray of being a mastermind thief, who is believed to have initially targeted his wealthy girlfriend, Jacqueline Quillen, and gradually expanded his crime spree among her rich friends.
Gray was working as a political science professor at John Cabot University in Rome, when crossed paths with Jacqueline Quillen, the divorced granddaughter of prominent physicist Alfred Lee Loomis, in 2004.
They began shacking up in their respective countries, but unbeknownst to Quillen, Gray allegedly began pilfering from her and her associates.
According to a civil suit filed by Quillen’s son, Parker, Gray snatched a set of 1920s Steuben martini glasses that were said to be a gift from Loomis.
Parker Quillen reportedly discovered martini glasses inside L’Enfant Gallery in Georgetown.
Gray has been accused of the theft of a minimum of seven pieces of high-end jewelry, which he made $45,000 on fencing at a New York auction house.
Among the stolen pieces was a Verdura platinum, diamond, and sapphire brooch that sold for $22,500, along with Buccellati pendant earrings and a brooch valued at $13,000 and $7,500, respectively.
In addition to the Manhattan charges, Gray is looking at a felony larceny charge in Rhode Island for allegedly snatching a $32,000 Verdura brooch from a Newport home during a wedding reception.
Authorities contend that Gray carried out this theft in May 2016 while staying with Quillen at the Herrick residence, where the reception was held.
According to court documents, the victim reported to authorities that a family friend had seen her “one-of-a-kind” piece on the website of an New York auction house in 2021.
Gray allegedly consigned the brooch to Doyle in August 2016 and sold it for $19,871.
His signature in the wedding’s guest book may be a crucial piece of evidence, as it matched one on the consignment agreement with with the auction house.
Authorities in Newport charged that Gray had been a regular seller at the auction house where he consigned around 25 jewelry and art items over a five year period. Gray is scheduled to appear in a Providence courtroom on September 7th.
Meanwhile, Parker claimed that Gray stole a significant number of valuables from his mother, including a $17,000 diamond ring, a $10,000 Patek Philippe watch, and $4,700 diamond earrings.
Quillen passed away from heart failure in October 2020, after attempting to remove Gray from her residence in June of the same year. Gray settled with Quillen’s estate in August, but the details remain confidential.
Gray was released without being required to pay bail on Tuesday, after pleading not guilty and agreeing to give up his passport.
“The defendant allegedly repeatedly sold stolen jewelry in order to enrich himself,” said District Attorney Bragg said in a statement.
“New York’s status as a global hub for auction houses is diminished when goods are illegally sold. We will continue to ensure that all transactions in the marketplace – regardless of item – are done fairly and in accordance with the law.”
Gray’s attorney denounced the charges, claiming that the case brought against him by Quillen’s family is baseless and motivated by disapproval of their relationship. The lawyer asserted that Gray will be vindicated once the facts are heard.
Gray is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan courtroom on October 31.