Two people have been arrested in connection with the theft of a golden toilet from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The theft occurred Saturday, according to The Associated Press. A 36-year-old man was held on suspicion of conspiracy before being released, and police earlier arrested a 66-year-old man. Neither suspect is currently in jail.
The toilet, which is a working model and could be used by visitors to Blenheim, was created as a work of art and was at the palace for a short-term art display. It has a value estimated near $6 million, according to The Guardian.
The toilet, titled “America,” was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
Because the toilet was connected to the palace’s plumbing, significant water damage took place after it was stolen. The toilet had been installed in a room next to the one in which Churchill was born.
“We are continuing to investigate this incident and have made a second arrest in connection with it. Our priority is to locate the stolen item,” Detective Inspector Steven Jones of the Thames Valley Police said.
A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled “America” by its creator Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen on Saturday from an exhibit at the birthplace of Winston Churchillhttps://t.co/rkLg4FNmq0
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 14, 2019
Blenheim chief executive Dominic Hare said the incident reminded him of a “heist movie.” He said the theft was the “first theft of this type in living memory” from the estate, according to the BBC.
The palace has “a sophisticated security system,” he said, but its security staff is “now challenged to look hard at ourselves and improve again.”
Hare said the artwork was a “comment on the American dream.”
“At first, when they woke me up this morning with the news,” Cattelan told The New York Times. “I thought it was a prank: Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? I had forgotten for a second that it was made out of gold.”
“‘America’ was the one percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action,” he said, adding that the theft was not a prank to call attention to the work.
“I wish it was a prank,” he said, adding that the incident “is deadly serious if even a little bit surreal since the subject of the robbery was a toilet.”
Cattelan also had a request for the thieves: “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.”
“It is deeply ironic that a work of art portraying the American dream and the idea of an elite object made available to all should be almost instantly snatched away and hidden from view,” Hare said.
It has been reported that Blenheim Palace’s newly installed 18-carat golden toilet was stolen overnight. The Duke of Marlborough’s brother Edward Spencer-Churchill told me last month that he was relaxed about security. Famous last words… pic.twitter.com/8HwP1QWurM
— Grant Tucker (@GrantTucker) September 14, 2019
The toilet had previously been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where in 2017 its curator estimated more than 100,000 people had used it.
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