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Gold Toilet Heist: Four Men Charged in Connection with $5.95 Million Theft from Blenheim Palace



Gold Toilet

On Monday, four men were charged in relation to the theft of an 18-carat gold toilet from Blenheim Palace, the historic English country mansion where Winston Churchill, the British wartime leader, was born.

The stolen toilet, valued at £4.8 million ($5.95 million), was an artwork titled “America” and created by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan. It was intended as a satirical commentary on excessive wealth. The artwork had been part of an exhibition at Blenheim Palace, situated near Oxford, before it disappeared overnight in September 2019.

The Crown Prosecution Service authorized criminal charges against the four men, aged 35 to 39, for burglary and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

While seven individuals had been arrested in connection with the theft, no charges were filed until Monday, nearly four years after the toilet was stolen. The artwork, which has never been recovered, was fully functional, allowing visitors to the exhibition to book a three-minute appointment to use it. Its removal resulted in significant damage and flooding to the 18th-century palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site with valuable art and furniture, attracting thousands of visitors annually.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York, where the toilet was displayed in a bathroom before its exhibition at Blenheim Palace, described it as “cast in 18-carat gold” and emphasized its invitation to viewers to experience “unprecedented intimacy with a work of art” by using it.

Gold Toilet

In 2021, the Thames Valley Police, responsible for investigating the theft, acknowledged the challenge of recovering the stolen toilet. Police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber suggested that it might be challenging to retrieve the toilet, given its considerable amount of gold, and speculated that it may have already been disposed of.

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The four suspects are scheduled to appear in Oxford Magistrates’ Court on November 28, according to prosecutors.

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