Sunday, September 26, 2010

Skippy Musket, Susan Leigh Smithson, & the Missing Jewels

Skippy Musket--doesn't that moniker conjure up images? The name has been used in romance novels and in appellation dropping conversations, but perhaps many in the Shoals have never heard of the Atlanta jewelry store. Yet, for years Skippy Musket, Inc., was a fixture in the Buckhead area where it sold antique and vintage jewels--very expensive jewels.

In 1997, Susan Leigh Smithson's store Miz Scarletts occupied the same Phipps Plaza shopping center as Skippy Musket. We're unsure how well Ms. Smithson knew the owners of Skippy Musket, but in December of that year she requested a loan of over one million dollars in jewelry to adorn her models in a private fashion show to be held at her Rivers Road home in northeast Atlanta.

The December 14th fashion show featured a live band along with the jewel bedecked models, including Smithson, who mingled with the guests. By December 19th, all the jewels had been returned to Skippy Musket with the exception of the four items worn by Smithson, who informed the upscale jeweler that the high-end pieces were missing.

Gone were:

One diamond necklace valued at 175K
One diamond/platinum ring valued at 57K
One diamond/gold ring valued at 165K
One pair of diamond earrings valued at 27.5K

A December 20th police raid of Smithson's home uncovered the missing jewels secreted in a closet. Susan Leigh Smithson was promptly arrested for theft by conversion in connection with the 424.5K of missing Skippy Musket inventory.

The jewel theft occurred over 12 years ago; is it relevant to the Susan Smithson of today? If there had been no other brushes with the law, we would say no. We hope that each of us is a wiser and better person than we were 12 years ago--that's the way life is supposed to work.

However, in 2000, Smithson was again involved in a civil lawsuit over the disposition of sample dresses used in her store. A quick Google of Miz Scarletts turns up more recent suits over bad checks in payment for inventory. In other words, there seems to be a lifelong pattern here.

That brings us to today and her ongoing renovation of Sweetwater Mansion, a property that she for many years attempted to sell for much more than it was worth. We hope Ms. Smithson remembers that her home is still private property and subject to income tax on all funds the property produces from tours. Ideally, Sweetwater should become a public trust, but we're not holding our breaths.


A Lauderdale based attorney tells us that the July 2009 robbery charges against Holland Noah Elkins have apparently been settled--either dropped or plead down to a youthful offender charge. Since other sources indicate his December 2008 home invasion charge has not yet come to trial, his arrest last week in Florence may be treated as a first offense.

We've received many e-mails concerning Holland, most hoping he will receive leniency and the help he obviously needs. Tomorrow we'll feature J. J. Ray's take on the most recent events.


Coffee High School is technically gone and F. T. Appleby Junior High School is literally no more, but you can buy a piece of their history on eBay: Link


Connecting on Friday!