Thieves struck gold, literally, at Blenheim Palace over the weekend. An 18-carat gold toilet that is valued around $6 million was stolen from the Duke of Marlborough's home in Oxfordshire, England, where former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was born. The toilet, which is an art piece called the “America” by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen in the early hours of Saturday, September 14—two days after it was installed. “We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt,” Blenheim Palace said in a statement.
“We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations,” they added. “It’s therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share.”
The investigation is currently ongoing, though CNN reports that a 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the theft. Following the robbery, Maurizo reacted to his artwork being stolen saying, “Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? America was the 1% for the 99%, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action..."
Maurizio admitted in a statement (via CNN) that he initially thought the robbery was a prank. “It took me a while, after a few checks, to come to the conclusion that it was true and it wasn't a surreal movie where instead of the jewels of the crown, the thieves went away with a b***** toilet," he said. "I always liked heist movies and finally I'm in one of them." He also asked the robbers, "Dear thieves, please, if you are reading this, let me know how much you like the piece and how it feels to pee on gold."
The incident caused significant damage and flooding due to the gold toilet being plumed into the building, according to Detective Inspector Jess Milne. "We believe a group offenders used at least two vehicles during the offense,” Jess told CNN. "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.”