John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘The Music Box’

After emptying or doing valuations at almost 800 houses and factories during my long career, I can never forget the craftiness I came across at a house in Beeston, Nottingham.

One of my regular solicitor contacts asked me to go and sweep out the empty property, where I was assured the relatives had already shared out and taken away the valuables and furniture.

As I went into the house, there was just one man left there, waiting outside on the road in his Volvo Estate, which was crammed full of pieces. When I came back outside, I told the man that I had finished the clean- up and was now shutting the house.

The man stepped out and inquired: ‘Oh, right. Have they all gone then?’ I assumed he was referring to the other relatives, so I said they had indeed.

Excitedly, the man strode past me and headed for the rear yard where a black heap of coke stood against a wall. Gingerly, he bent down and began to pull aside the coke and reach into the filthy pile with his blackened bare hands. Out he pulled a small box-like object, covered in coke dust, which I quickly deduced was a Swiss musical cabinet, with small instruments inlaid on the front. Dating from around 1830, it was worth about £350, which was a decent figure in the late 1980s.

Without a word, the man lifted the small box and walked off brazenly to his Volvo before driving off with his booty. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed; he had obviously hidden the piece in the coke and waited for the coast to be clear to make off with it.

You would never be surprised at the trickery of some people, even with their own families. Unbelievable!

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