Solid gold toilet stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace

LONDON (AP) — A unique solid gold toilet that was part of an art exhibit was stolen last Saturday from the magnificent home in England where British wartime leader Winston Churchill was born.

The toilet, valued at roughly one million pounds (USD1.25 million), was the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

It had been installed only two days earlier at Blenheim Palace, west of London, after previously being shown to appreciative audiences at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Police said the toilet was taken early Saturday by thieves who used at least two vehicles. Because it had been connected to the palace’s plumbing system, police said the toilet’s removal caused “significant damage and flooding” to the building, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with valuable art and furniture. A 66-year-old man was arrested in the case, but he has not been identified or charged.

Inspector Richard Nicholls from Thames Valley Police said police believe the thieves left the spacious property about 4.50am and that the toilet was the only item taken. Closed circuit TV footage is being studied in the investigation.

Prior to the theft, visitors to the Cattelan exhibition could book a three-minute appointment to use the toilet. This had proved popular when the toilet was on display at the Guggenheim.

The artist intended the golden toilet to be a pointed satire about excessive wealth. Cattelan has previously said, “Whatever you eat, a USD200 lunch or a USD2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”

Thames Valley Police Detective Inspector Jess Milne said, “The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.”

The 18-karat toilet, titled America, by Maurizio Cattelan in the restroom of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York. PHOTO: AP