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Gray Powell's father: 'He was devastated'

Robert Powell defends his son, the Apple engineer who reportedly lost a prototype iPhone. The elder Powell said whoever found it is a "thief."

The father of Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who reportedly lost a prototype of the iPhone 4G, says his son was reeling following the incident.

"Of course he was devastated," Robert Powell told CNET in a phone interview Wednesday. "He loves the company."

Gray Powell
Gray Powell was "devastated" by the reported loss of an iPhone prototype, his father says. Gizmodo

Gray Powell, 27, finds himself in the middle of media frenzy after losing a handset that appears to be a next-generation iPhone, a device that has yet to be released or even acknowledged by Apple. We've been trying to reach the younger Powell directly and passed along an interview request through his father.

Last month, Gray Powell visited the Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City, Calif., to celebrate his birthday and apparently forgot the prototype at the bar.

A person who has yet to be identified picked up the phone. Not long thereafter, either that person or someone else connected began contacting media outlets, including gadget blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, to gauge their interest in buying the phone.

Nick Denton, CEO of Gawker Media, Gizmodo's parent company, acknowledged paying $5,000 to obtain the device knowing that his company was handing money over to someone other than the phone's rightful owner. Gizmodo also published a story about how Powell lost the phone.

Robert Powell had strong opinions about the person who found the phone: "The bottom line is the guy stole the phone," he said. "The guy's a thief."

"The bottom line is the guy (who found Apple engineer Gray Powell's iPhone 4G and sold it to Gizmodo) stole the phone. The guy's a thief."
--Robert Powell, Gray's father

Gray Powell joined Apple after spending time with Sony Ericsson, a position that required he crisscross the globe, according to his father. As a student at North Carolina State, Gray studied electrical and computer engineering .

Ever since the story of the lost phone broke, techies have wondered what would become of the person who misplaced it. Surely, many observers assumed, the super-secretive Apple would make those responsible for losing the device pay dearly. Apple goes to great lengths to guard product launches and trade secrets.

Is Gray Powell in jeopardy of losing his job?

"I think he'll be OK," said Robert Powell. "He's good at what he does. He's a hard worker."