In 1994 Peter Scott, Britain's most legendary cat burglar, wrote the The Daily Telegraph, saying that it would be "a massive disappointment if I were not to get a mention in [its] illustrious obituary column."
Well, do a little dance in cat burglar heaven (or hell, probably), Mr. Scott, because you got your wish. The Telegraph released a lengthy obit on Scott yesterday, who died from cancer at the age of 82, and whose life reads like a USA Network Sunday night movie.
Born Peter Craig Gulston in Belfast on February 18, 1931, his mother emigrated the family to the United States after the passing of his father and already sensing that young Peter, much like that dude Taylor Swift has warned us about (Okay. Much like Harry Styles), was trouble.
While still in his teens he was wandering the Malone Road in his school scarf burgling houses of the well-off and stashing the spoils in a rugby bag slung over his shoulder. He estimated that he had committed 150 such "screwers" before the police finally nailed him in 1952. "They never suspected me," he explained, "because I looked like a resident. When the police eventually caught on, I had done so many jobs that they were embarrassed and only charged me with 12."
He eventually changed his last name to Scott and moved to London, working as a bouncer by day, and a burglar by night. Scott served a total of 12 years in correctional facilities, serving lengthy terms with eventual co-conspirator George "Thaters" Chathum, following multiple shorter terms in the late 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s. By the mid-1990s, Scott claimed to have laid to rest his thieving ways, but was jailed again in 1998 for the theft of Picasso's Tête de Femme from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair the year prior.
In all, by his own reckoning, Scott stole jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million. He held none of his victims in great esteem ("upper-class prats chattering in monosyllables"). The roll-call of "marks" from whom he claimed to have stolen valuables included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and the gambling club and zoo owner John Aspinall. "Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites," he recollected. "Sophia Loren got what she deserved too."
Scott justified his crimes by declaring his victims as deserving of what they got, saying, "The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation - they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop."
Scott ultimately declared bankruptcy and died broke, having spent all his hard-earned money on "head waiters and tarts."