The butler didn't do it, ruled 12 jurors who deliberated the fate of a man accused by his wealthy ex-employer of stealing two paintings worth more than $500,000.
Rune Gunnar "Roy" Donnell, a Swedish butler who had been jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail since his arrest last September, was freed Friday after a jury found him not guilty of two counts of grand theft."In other words, the butler didn't do it," said Donnell's attorney, Donald C. Randolph.
Donnell, 62, had worked for Elizabeth Keck for 15 years but quit about three months before she discovered a 19th-century English painting missing from her Bel-Air home.
The impressionist work "I Fria Luften," by Swedish-born artist Anders Zorn, was reported missing last September. A French work, "Fete Gallante," also was missing.
The paintings were sold to a Stockholm, Sweden, firm that paid $500,000 for "I Fria Luften," and $5,000 for "Fete Gallante."
Donnell testified that he received permission to act as Keck's agent in selling the paintings in Stockholm.
Keck denied Donnell's story and told police Donnell often admired the Zorn painting and said it would fetch a high price in Sweden.
"Suffice it to say that we feel that the jury was misled by the defense," said Keck's attorney, Steven Knowles. He said she was considering filing a civil suit.
Keck is a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art and her husband, Howard B. Keck, is a retired oilman who has been listed by Forbes Magazine as one the country's 400 richest people.