Grave Robbers Steal Head of Nosferatu Director F.W. Murnau

Friederich Wilhelm Murnau's tomb.
Photo: AFP Photo/ DPA/ RALF Hirschberger.

Grave robbers have stolen the head of German expressionist cinema maestro Friedrich Wilhelm (F.W.) Murnau, the director of the classic silent vampire film Nosferatu, according to Bild Daily. The robbers opened Murnau’s metal coffin and decapitated the director’s body.

The police have not ruled out the possibility of an occultist motive in Monday’s theft after discovering candle wax within the family crypt, where the director’s brothers are also buried, in Stahnsdorf, Berlin. Authorities will investigate the crime on charges of theft and “disturbing the peace of the dead.” The thieves did not touch any other remains at the site.

According to the Washington Post, this is not the first time someone has tampered with the tomb. It was first broken into in the 1970s, resulting in damage to the director’s iron coffin.

Cemetery manager Olaf Ihlefeldt told the Post he speculated it could have been a ceremony of some type put on by “Satanists” or those performing “black magic,” perhaps even “a photo session or a celebration or whatever in the night. It really isn’t clear.”

The cult horror film, released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula. The studio had to change several details because they did not have rights to the novel; “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok.”

Murnau died in a car crash near Santa Barbara in 1931.

Screenshot of Nosferatu. Photo: via YouTube.

Screenshot of Nosferatu.
Photo: via YouTube.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics