North Woolwich housekeeper stole artwork to clear debts

17:00 15 November 2012

A housekeeper swiped a £100,000 painting from an Italian financier in a bid to clear her debts and renovate her house, a court heard.

Cresentla Ragonton, 58, helped herself to ‘Study for Light’ by Ed Ruscha from the Belgravia home of Giuseppe Ciardi in central London.

She tried to sell the artwork at top auction house Bonhams, with an estimated price of £80,000 to £100,000, but police intercepted before the sale could take place.

Westminster Magistrates Court heard Ragonton needed cash to clear her debts and also had designs on a refit of her own home.

Prosecutor Guy Saul said when arrested she claimed to have debts of £15,000 and also said she wanted to renovate her house “because it was very cold.”

Ragonton worked as Mr Ciardi’s housekeeper at his home in Chester Square for six years, and would often look after his children, the court heard.

Mr Ciardi, 59, made his fortune as the founder of hedge fund Park Place Capital and bought the art work in New York in 2004 for $65,000.

His wife Alexandra was tragically killed in 2005 when she was hit by a speed boat while on holiday in Sardinia.

Ragonton admitted stealing the painting on August 6 this year.

District Judge Michael Fanning told her: “This was a significant breach of trust, you have stolen from your employer who clearly believe he could have left you in charge of his premises.

“You abused that trust, and had you got away with it he would have been significantly out of pocket.”

He said Ragonton would be given credit for the guilty plea when sahe is sentenced at Southwark Crown Court at a date to be set.

Ragonton’s barrister, Temi Johnson, said she had been in the UK for several years, and lived with her children who are in their 20s at her home in CShepp[ard Street, Canning Town.

She has no previous convictions, has never been arrested. “It appears this was a one-off incident,” she said.

Ms Johnson added there was “no actual loss”, because the painting was recovered before it could be auctioned off.

Ragonton was released on conditional bail. She had admitted one count of theft.

Latest News Stories

Man charged with Bow Creek murder

A man has appeared in court today charged with the murder of a homeless rough sleeper in east London whose body was discovered in the Bow Creek.

London City Airport

Attempts to expand London City Airport are continuing, with plans unveiled to take it into the water.

Boris Johnson
Saulius Urbanavicius, 24, has been charged with murder

A 24-year-old man will appear in court today charged with murder after a body was found in Canning Town.

Canning Town
Junior doctors at a rally in central London last month

Junior doctors will not strike today after the British Medical Association (BMA) reached an agreement with the Government to resume negotiations.


Most read news


Section Boys, Big Tipper, Big Narstie, Lady Leshurr, Trapstar, and UFest street team members

We’ve got 10 pairs of tickets to give away to watch some of the country’s best and brightest urban music talent at UFest, London’s official youth festival.

Read more
Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Read more
Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Read more

Digital Edition

Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder