Georgetown Abuzz Over Story of Lover, Companion, Alleged Jewel Thief


For 15 years, Jackie Quillen and Larry Gray dated, attended exclusive parties and concerts together, travelled with one another, eventually moving in together in Quillen’s home at 3507 R St. NW. The pair discussed books and news and enjoyed hosting and being hosted by Quillen’s many often wealthy and international friends and family connections.

But now, more than a year after Quillen’s death, Gray is facing a court-filed complaint from Quillen’s sons alleging Gray stole and sold her paintings, furniture, jewelry and décor worth tens of thousands of dollars at least at two well-known Georgetown shops: Ella Rue, a high-end consignment shop at 3231 P St. NW — that in 2021 secured a police order barring the gentleman friend Gray from entering the store because of “suspected theft,” and L’Enfant Gallerie, an antiques store across the street.

Jacqueline Quillen, who she died on Oct. 1, 2020, at the age of 77, was a noted wine connoisseur, owner of the wine department for Christie’s North America and heiress of two East Coast families of wealth.

“She was a wonderful person, enormous fun to be with, who treated everyone she knew as a best friend,” Didi Cutler told The Georgetowner, echoing the sentiments of almost everyone interviewed for this article.

With the big story appearing on the front page of the Jan. 20 Washington Post and in longer stories in Harper’s Bazaar and Airmail.news, among others this week, Georgetown is abuzz with conversation.

Lawrence Gray, 77, Quillen’s companion since about 2011, is a multilingual retired tenured professor of political science who taught at a small international liberal arts college in Rome, Italy, where he also had been the director of the U.S. State Department’s Fulbright program for four years. He also allegedly had an association with the CIA.

Many friends of Quillen’s are quoted in breaking news articles this week that they didn’t particularly like Gray, didn’t trust him, were uncomfortable around him. But they accepted him because Quillen appeared to be happy with him.

But some friends knew what has now become public knowledge. Gray had been arraigned in October 2021 before a judge in Rhode Island on a charge of stealing a diamond and sapphire brooch valued at $32,000 from a home where the couple were staying as guests in 2016; Gray had sold the brooch on consignment according to the police affidavit. He pleaded not guilty and was released. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 2.

But the 2021 arrest and subsequent reports of missing jewelry at other venues where the couple had stayed, apparently fired up suspicions from Quillen. Airmail reported that she began to keep a diary of her suspicions that Gray was responsible for the theft of well over a million dollars of family heirlooms. Close to her death she shared her suspicions with her sons.

The complaints to date, however, deal with smaller consignments. Following up on suspicions by Krista Johnson of Ella Rue, Quillen’s sons Parker and Bart traveled to Georgetown. Walking into the L’Enfant antique store was like walking into their mother’s house they said, according to the Airmail article. “Our whole family heritage was for sale right in front of our eyes. There was china, Italian glassware, landscapes, seascapes, rare prints, etchings, and the silk Persian rug that had once lived under their mother’s dining-room table, all familiar, and all of it sold or consigned by Larry Gray.” However, the family has found that it is difficult to make charges until it can be proved a crime was committed, i.e., that Gray was not given the items by Quillen as gifts.

Gray also faces litigation from the family about staying on in Quillen’s home despite the family asking him to leave. In January 2021, the “Jacqueline L. Quillen Living Trust” filed a lawsuit accusing Lawrence Gray of illegally occupying, or squatting in her Burleith home, which now belongs to the estate. Gray responded that he is preparing to leave; but D.C.’s pandemic eviction protection initiative has protected him from removal. Until now.

The Quillen home on R Street NW. Photo by Robert Devaney.

For a 2013 Georgetowner story about Jackie Quillen, visit https://georgetowner.com/articles/2013/08/08/whats-cooking-neighbor-2013-08-08/.

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