4 Charged in Theft of $6M Gold Toilet

Artwork was stolen in 2019 from mansion where Winston Churchill was born
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2019 1:24 PM CDT
Updated Nov 7, 2023 4:38 PM CST
Solid Gold Toilet Stolen From Churchill's Birthplace
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.   (AP Photo, File)
UPDATE Nov 7, 2023 4:38 PM CST

Four men were charged Monday over the theft of an 18-carat gold toilet from Blenheim Palace, the English country mansion where Winston Churchill was born. The toilet, valued at $5.95 million, was an artwork titled "America" and intended as a pointed satire about excessive wealth by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan. The Crown Prosecution Service said Monday it had authorized criminal charges against four men, ages 35 to 39, over the theft. They are accused of burglary and conspiracy to transfer criminal property. Seven people had been arrested over the heist, but no charges were brought until Monday, four years after the fully functioning toilet was stolen, causing flooding in the palace, the AP reports. The artwork has never been found.

Sep 14, 2019 1:24 PM CDT

A unique solid gold toilet that was part of an art exhibit was stolen early Saturday from the magnificent home in England where British wartime leader Winston Churchill was born. The toilet, valued at roughly $1.25 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 $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise."

(More theft stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.