Urn containing Freud's ashes 'dropped during break-in'

January 17, 2014

A thief who tried to steal an ancient urn containing the ashes of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, from a London crematorium dropped it while trying to climb over a gate, police said Friday.

The burglar, who may have had an accomplice, forced a window at the Golders Green Crematorium on New Year's Eve, took the 4th-century BC urn from its plinth and left the building by the same means.

"The suspect(s) attempted to leave the venue by climbing over a locked gate, in doing so they dropped the urn causing the damage," the Metropolitan Police said in statement.

It said the urn was left "severely damaged".

When Freud died in September 1939, his ashes were placed in one of the numerous Greek urns in his collection of antiquities and displayed in the crematorium, which is close to his last home in Hampstead, north London.

His wife Martha Freud's ashes were added after her death in 1951. The family home is now the Freud Museum.

Freud was given the urn—which depicts Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ecstasy—by his close friend and fellow psychoanalyst Princess Marie Bonaparte.

A relation of Napoleon and the wife of the Prince of Greece and Denmark, the princess helped Freud, his wife and daughter Anna flee Vienna when Adolf Hitler annexed Austria in 1938.

The family arrived in London that summer and Freud died the following year.

Police first revealed the attempted theft on Wednesday, a fortnight after it was discovered by the crematorium manager on the morning of January 1.

Explore further: UK police trial vest-mounted cameras after killing

Related Stories

UK police trial vest-mounted cameras after killing

January 9, 2014

London's police force said Thursday it was rolling out vest-mounted video cameras to some of the capital's 2,300 firearms officers, hoping to help build public confidence after a contentious inquest verdict on a fatal shooting.

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
Likely the burglar had a "Freudian slip".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.