Charlie Chaplin was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. His “The Tramp” character became the face of slapstick comedy and made him one of cinema’s biggest stars but Chaplin's posthumous career was perhaps the most spectacular of all.
In 1952, A comic actor moved his family to Switzerland. Charlie Chaplin, his wife Oona and their eight children. Charlie died on Christmas day 1977 at the age of 88. He was buried in a 300-lb coffin in a quiet ceremony. The whole world mourned his passing.
Three months later Charlie's wife Oona(Oona Chaplin was Charlie’s fourth wife after Mildred Harris, Lita Grey, and Paulette Goddard) got a weird call from Swiss police. her husband's body disappeared. After dark Chaplin’s grave had been desecrated. The heavy coffin had been dug up and removed from the unguarded cemetery.
Indentations in the ground indicated that the coffin had been dragged for a short distance. Then it apparently was driven away in a vehicle. The motive for the theft was not clear.
Lausanne Policeman said, "We are completely in the dark as to who stole the coffin and why it was stolen".
Many conspiracy theories arose, one of the theories was that the grave robbery was done by Nazi’s. Who disapproved of the Chaplin’s parody of Adolf Hitler in the film “The great dictator”
Some speculated obsession fans exhumed the corpse to return Chaplin to his native England. Others insisted that the grave robbery was done by anti-semites.
In several days Oona Chaplin got another call. The caller claimed to have Chaplin’s body. A few days later she received a photo of Chaplin’s coffin. The thieves demanded $600,000 Swiss francs to return the body but Chaplin’s wife laughed at them and refused to pay.
Later The callers made threats against her two youngest children. Then Oona and robbers began to negotiate the amount of ransom. So $ 600,000 the value of the ransom ended up dropping to 100,000.
The police set up a ransom meeting as a trap but they arrested the postman by mistake and the deal was off. The thieves said that they would call to renegotiate the ransom on May 17 at 9:30 AM
The cops tapped Oona’s phone and assigned officers to watch nearly 200 phone booths in the area. The police eventually caught the criminals at a payphone in nearby Lausanne.
The robbers were two auto mechanics named Roman Wardas and Gatscho Ganev. Wardas and Ganev were desperate because of their precarious financial conditions. So they decided to copy a similar crime that happened in Italy.
The fail squad was charged with grave robbing and extortion. Wardas, the reported “mastermind” was sentenced to four years. While Ganev got an 18 month suspended sentence. Both grave robbers wrote apology letters to Chaplin’s widow.
She was ready to let bygones be bygones and wrote back only 4 words: “look, all is forgiven”
The great Chaplin was reburied in a concrete grave to prevent future theft attempts. Ensuring his sternal rest will never be disturbed.