Australian Burglars Make Off With Napoleon’s Hair and Snuff Box

Napoleon Bonaparte's hair, among ten items stolen from a museum in Australia. Photo: courtesy Agence France-Presse/Victoria Police.

Thieves have stolen a number of Napoleon Bonaparte artifacts, including a lock of his hair, from a museum in Australia, the AFP reports.

The robbers targeted the Briars Park homestead, a museum opened by the descendants of Alexander Balcombe, an Englishman who as a child became acquainted with Napoleon during the former emperor’s final years, which he spent in exile in St. Helena—a small island in the South Atlantic.

In addition to the former French emperor’s hair, which was encased in a glass frame—as if it were the relic of a saint—the burglars made off with a ribbon signed by Napoleon in 1815, an antique ring and snuff box, two paintings, and an inkwell inset with three coins the emperor was supposedly carrying at the time of his death. Altogether, ten items were taken.

The thieves entered the building through a bathroom window after removing the blinds, and are believed to have completed the heist in under ten minutes. According to a police statement, “the offender(s) have jemmied open cabinets inside and stolen numerous priceless antiques.” They speculated that the theft was specifically targeted, and may have been “stolen to order” on behalf of a private collector.

Museum officials have described the missing artifacts as priceless due to their unique nature. The rest of the collection, which contains nearly 500 objects, has been temporarily relocated.


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