Self-proclaimed Robin Hood, legendary cat burglar Peter Scott, has died at age 82 from cancer.
The "King of Cat Burglars" received a lengthy obituary in the The Telegraph Saturday. In 1994, Scott wrote the paper saying it would be "a massive disappointment if I were not to get a mention in [its] illustrious obituary column."
Scott sent The Telegraph a list of celebrities he targeted including Shirley McClain, the Shah of Iran, Judy Garland and even Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. He claimed he was “sent by God to take back some of the wealth that the outrageously rich had taken from the rest of us.”
He recalled casing the Dropmore House, the country home belonging to the press baron Viscount Kemsley in 1956. “I felt like a missionary seeing his flock for the first time,” he said. “I decided these people were my life’s work.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, he found his targets by going through the Daily Mail or the Daily Express. Joining a prestigious London tennis club to mingle with the wealthy he hoped he would find more “rich prats” to steal from. Into the 1980s, Scott was still climbing drainpipes to get into buildings.
By his own account, he stole jewels, artwork, and furs worth over $50 million. He had a string of glamorous girlfriends, including model Jackie Bowyer, who became the second of Scott’s four wives. His criminal life was the basis of the 1965 film He Who Rides the Tiger, in which he is played by Tom Bell while Judi Dench played his miserable girlfriend. He profited little from the film, during which time he was serving a prison sentence in Dartmoor.
By the mid-1990s, he served a total of 12 years in prison for different offenses and retired from a life of crime. However in 1998, he was imprisoned for over three years in connection with the theft of Picasso’s Tête de Femme from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair.
Broke at the end of his life, Scott fretted, “I gave all my money to head waiters and tarts.” He declared bankruptcy, owing approximately $670,000 to creditors. He lived on benefits of about $90 a week in an Islington council flat.