He was born into a world of privilege, a member of New York's aristocracy. So just how did Randolph Hobson Guthrie III come to be jailed in Shanghai for trafficking in pirated discs, before his deportation last week to the US? Guthrie, 38, the black sheep of one of Manhattan's oldest society families, was sentenced on the mainland to 21/2 years in prison last year. He is being held in Los Angeles but is expected to be released in the next few days on a US$1 million bond. His parents, New York socialite Beatrice Holden Guthrie and plastic surgery pioneer Randolph Hobson Guthrie Jnr, put up their US$10 million New York home as security. Guthrie will remain under electronic surveillance thanks to an ankle bracelet and will be confined to his parents' home. He faces charges in the US that could put him behind bars for 20 years. In July last year Guthrie and fellow American Abram Cody Thrush were among four people arrested after Chinese police discovered more than 210,000 stockpiled pirate DVDs during the first joint operation of its kind by Chinese and US law enforcement agencies. At the time, the mainland government said operation 'Spring Action' was proof 'Chinese law enforcement is willing to co-operate more with American law enforcement and law enforcement of other countries to combat piracy of intellectual property rights, which is a global crime'. Guthrie's expulsion before completion of his mainland sentence came despite the lack of a formal extradition treaty between the two countries. 'The Chinese police will go on increasing co-operation with other countries, including the US, to fight international crimes under the principle of understanding, trust and equality,' a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said. The eldest son of the Guthries, whose great-great-grandfather was Andrew Carnegie's business partner, Henry Phipps, ended up masterminding an US$840,000 pirate DVD operation from a ramshackle Shanghai apartment. Guthrie is one of about 200 in line to inherit the multibillion-dollar Phipps fortune - not to mention the fact that his family owns the bank that manages the Bush family's money, Bessemer Trust. Various reports cited him as a recluse, whose possible suffering of Asperger's Syndrome might have been confused with what friends refer to as a habit of frequent obnoxious outbursts. He has also been painted as a drifter who could never settle, which led to him to China in 1995. Last year, the Shanghai court found Guthrie and Thrush guilty of selling an estimated 130,000 pirated DVD copies to countries such as the US and Britain, through the website www.threedollardvd.com . In addition to his jail term, Guthrie was fined US$60,050.