Father-and-Son Stole Over £1.5m in Chinese Antiques from a 96-Year-Old Widow

Given the potential value of authentic Chinese antiques, it’s always a thrill to find such an item for sale at a boot sale or in an antique shop. Naturally, plenty of Asian decorative objects carry comparatively little financial value. Some can generate a significant windfall, though, as an unscrupulous father-and-son team of light-fingered gardeners discovered.

Des Pickersgill and his son Gary worked for a 96-year-old widow in the Lincolnshire seaside town of Skegness as private gardeners. The homeowner was in recovery from a stroke and thus required constant care. As a result, neighbours assumed that the Pickersgills were simply good Samaritans when they stayed after hours, sharing wine and conversation with their employer. Sadly, this was not the case.

The home was host to countless treasures, including original Picasso artworks, first edition novels of great value, and numerous genuine Chinese antiques, most notably those made from jade, ivory and porcelain. Over six years, the Pickersgills are alleged to have stolen these items. Educated thieves, the Pickersgills did not simply take their haul to the local Cash Converters. Instead, they opened an account with auction house Bonham’s and raised millions.

The lavish lifestyle opened up to the younger Pickersgill and his wife raised eyebrows and led to suspicion. Gary Pickersgill went from struggling to pay his rent to living rent-free in a luxury home seemingly overnight, then purchased a hotel in Skegness and underwent extensive repairs. Ironically, though, it was an entirely separate burglary that shone a light on the misdeeds of the Pickersgills.

In 2017, thieves broke into the home of the Pickersgill’s employer and raided the remainder of her collection. During an insurance claim valuation, an investigator discovered that somebody had sold items the woman believed to still be in her possession at Bonham’s. The paper trail, naturally, led to the Pickersgills. Claims that their employer paid them in valuables for odd jobs as she had no cash on her person were rejected, and the CPS took the case to court.

The charges in question are theft of jade and ivory artefacts, fraud connected to the opening of the Bonham’s account, and converting criminal property. Both Pickersgills have pleaded not guilty to all charges, as have two family friends that aided with creating the auction house account. In addition, Gary Pickersgill’s wife Sarah is charged with the conversion of criminal property, despite claiming ignorance of her husband’s actions and “not asking” what resulted in such a financial turnaround.

The trial of all five individuals is currently ongoing in Luton Crown Court.

Read the story about Irv Graham and the cracked cup that was bought for £300 and later sold for £28,000. A cup that led to an adventure in China filled with amazing highs and life-threatening lows and the rebirth of 贵宾酒8. V.I.P Jiu 8 – The full story.


Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.