Jailed Shakespeare folio dealer found dead in prison

Raymond Scott Scott was jailed in 2010 for handling stolen goods

An antiques dealer who was jailed after being convicted of handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare's first folio has been found dead in prison.

Raymond Scott, 55, of County Durham, was sentenced to eight years in 2010.

He was also convicted of taking stolen goods abroad in relation to the 17th Century book, said to be worth £1m.

Scott was found dead in his cell in HMP Northumberland at about 08:40 GMT, in what the Ministry of Justice said appeared to be a case of self-harm.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said the prisoner was pronounced dead after being found unconscious in his cell.

"As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation," she said.

'A fantasist'

The 1623 work, a rare first collection of Shakespeare's plays, was taken from a display cabinet at Durham University in 1998.

In 2008 Scott, from Wingate, took the book to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC to have it authenticated.

Shakespeare folio The folio was damaged by Scott to hide its origins

Posing as a wealthy playboy, he told researchers he had been entrusted with the folio by friends in Cuba, who believed it might be valuable, the court heard.

But experts suspected the book was stolen and called in the British Embassy, Durham Police and the FBI.

Sentencing Scott for handling stolen goods in August 2010, Judge Richard Lowden, said: "You are to some extent a fantasist and have to some degree a personality disorder and you have been an alcoholic.

"It is clear that you are not suffering from any mental disorder."

Scott was cleared by the jury of stealing the book.

Champagne lifestyle

The court was also told that Scott had become infatuated with a young Cuban waitress and planned to sell the folio and share the proceeds with her and his friend Deni Mareno Leon, a retired Cuban army commandant.

Scott "mutilated" the folio, removing both the covers, the frontispiece, final page and binding in an effort to disguise its provenance, the court was told.

Raymond Scott's story was the subject of a BBC documentary in 2010

Independent experts said the book, even in its damaged state, was worth about £1m.

Regarded as one of the most important printed works in the English language, fewer than 250 copies of the collection survive.

Scott lived a champagne lifestyle and boasted of international business interests and homes in Monte Carlo and Lichtenstein.

He drove a Ferrari, wore designer clothes, smoked Cuban cigars and had a taste for vintage champagne funded by the fraudulent use of a string of credit cards.

He had convictions going back more than 20 years and had racked up credit card debts of more than £90,000.

His only legal income was from state benefits.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Tyne & Wear

Weather

Newcastle upon Tyne

Min. Night 4 °C

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.