Petersen used to be the Beverly Hills Hotel's pool manager, Us Weekly explains. The 86-year-old "cabana king" worked with plenty of big-name Hollywood stars, such as Katherine Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, and Marilyn Monroe, in his 40 years at the hotel.
But according to Petersen, he was tricked into some bad real estate deals, which eventually resulted into him losing his home. He recorded an emotional YouTube plea asking viewers to share money for him to get back on his feet. According to CBS LA, Petersen has been living in a motel and sometimes goes days at a time without food.
"Hello, my name is Svend Petersen. I'm 86 years old and homeless," Petersen says in the video. "I've been homeless for five months, and I'm calling on you because I need help real bad. I wish you would spare one, two, or three dollars, and I really appreciate it very much. Thank you very much, God bless."
There's also a GoFundMe page that says it was listed by one of Petersen's friends. According to the listing, Petersen was "taken advantage of by realtors who sold his house" and owes taxes from the home's sale. The listing set the fundraising goal at $5,900, to cover a "down payment and first three months' rent" for a studio apartment for Petersen.
Bullock apparently found the GoFundMe listing and donated $5,000 to help Petersen. A $5,000 donation, along with the phrase "Everything is going to be ok!" is attributed to a user named Sandra Bullock on the site. A screenshot of the donation is below.
It looks like the actress isn't the only friendly face on Petersen's side, either. There's a $200 listing on the GoFundMe page from a user named Bernard Dervieux, who left the message, "Hi Svend! Happy to help. Your friend, Chef Bernard 1980-1986 Beverly Hills Hotel." Others who donated to the GoFundMe also wrote that they'd worked with Petersen at the hotel, and some claimed that he'd helped them at the hotel, too.
As of Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe page raised more than $30,000 to support Petersen.