Napoleon’s hair was on a “shopping list” of priceless artefacts stolen from a historic Victorian homestead.
A thief broke into The Briars in Mount Martha in Melbourne’s southeast last week and stole the 200-year-old treasures.
They included a ring and flowers containing Napoleon Bonaparte’s hair, a ribbon inscribed by the French emperor in 1815 and a snuff box.
The Briars’ coordinator Steve Yorke said the thief – or thieves – were after the unique items on display.
“It was a shopping list. There were items overlooked of possibly equal or greater value,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
Security guards arrived within 10 minutes of an alarm going off late on April 10 and found cabinets had been forced open.
Police were unable to say how many thieves were involved.
Mr Yorke said volunteers at The Briars put their heart and soul into curating the Napoleonic collection.
“They’re upset, my team’s upset, the family descendants are upset,” he said.
The Dame Mabel Brookes Napoleonic Collection is the largest outside France, Mr Yorke said.
Her ancestor William Balcombe befriended the former emperor while he was in exile on the island of St Helena.
Mr Balcombe was appointed colonial treasurer in Sydney in 1824.
“He brought this amazing bit of European history to Australia with him,” Mr Yorke said.
Dame Mabel later travelled the world collecting pieces of Napoleonic history.
The 382-piece collection was bequeathed to the National Gallery of Victoria and loaned to The Briars, which was home to Alexander Balcombe, William Balcombe’s son.
Mr Yorke said the collection, which was viewed by up to 160,000 people a year, had been moved to a secure location.