The Metropolitan Police force said Wednesday that a 2,300-year-old Greek urn containing the remains of Freud and his wife Martha was severely damaged in a break-in at Golders Green Crematorium on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.
Detective Constable Daniel Candler said the attempted theft was "a despicable act."
"Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn and the historical significance ... the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief," he said.
The father of psychoanalysis moved to Britain from Nazi-controlled Austria in 1938. He died in London in September 1939, aged 83.
His remains, and those of his wife, who died in 1951, had sat in an urn atop a plinth inside the 112-year-old crematorium.
Golders Green Crematorium has seen the funerals of many British celebrities, including "Dracula" novelist Bram Stoker, comedian Peter Sellers and singer Amy Winehouse.
The crematorium said the urn had been moved to a secure location and security was being reviewed. Staff there would not comment further on the incident.
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