FILE - This Sept. 16, 2016 file image made from a video shows the 18-karat toilet, titled "America," by Maurizio Cattelan in the restroom of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Thieves have stolen the solid gold toilet worth up to 1 million pounds from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The toilet, the work of Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, had been installed only two days earlier at Blenheim Palace, west of London, after previously being on show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. (AP Photo, File)

Golden Toilet Art Installment Stolen from Churchill’s Birthplace

By Anna Skiles

OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND—A $1 million 18K gold toilet was stolen from Blenheim Palace, otherwise known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

The fully-functional toilet—titled “America”—had only been on display since Thursday. Authorities received a call reporting the burglary around 5:00 A.M. Saturday. One man has been taken into custody, but the whereabouts of “America” are still unknown.

The Thames Valley Police believe at least two vehicles were used in the burglary, and reported significant damage and flooding as a result of the theft. Detective Inspector Jess Milne said, “Due to the toilet being plumbed in to the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.” The Palace tweeted to patrons that it would be closed for the day, but would reopen on Sunday.

The toilet was created by Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian conceptual artist, as part of a larger art exhibit to be displayed at the palace. “America” was a satirical piece focused on excessive wealth, and Cattelan explained, “Whatever you eat, a $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.” While on display, visitors could sign up for three-minute appointments to…use the installment.

The Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation Edward Spencer-Churchill had originally been unconcerned with security for the toilet, stating “It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick […] Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”

The Thames police encourage anyone who may have information regarding the theft or location of the golden toilet to contact the police.

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