Thieves have tried to steal an ancient Greek urn containing the ashes of psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud, leaving the container severely damaged, police said on Wednesday.
The urn was on display at Golders Green crematorium in north London, alongside memorials to other famous names such as Dracula author Bram Stoker and actors Sid James and Peter Sellers.
The funeral of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs was held there earlier this month.
Staff found the damaged urn on the floor of the crematorium on New Year's Day.
"This was a despicable act by a callous thief," said Metropolitan Police Detective Constable Daniel Candler in a statement.
"Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn ... the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief," he added.
Freud moved to Britain from Nazi-controlled Austria in 1938 and died in London in September 1939 at the age of 83. The ashes of his wife Martha were added to the urn after her death in 1951.
No comment was immediately available from crematorium officials.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.