Nearly four years after a Maurizio Cattelan golden toilet sculpture was stolen in an early morning heist at the Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, police have made a “major breakthrough” and hope that charges will be filed soon, according to the Sun.
In September 2019, a gang of seven people broke into Blenheim Palace just before 5 a.m. and ripped the solid-gold, fully functioning toilet out of the ground. The toilet was meant to be part of an exhibition by the Italian artist but was stolen before his show opened.
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Not only did the thieves make off with the 196-pound toilet, whose worth is estimated at $6 million, but they also caused “extensive water damage” to the wood-paneled lavatory that was situated right next to the room where former UK prime minister Winston Churchill was born.
According to the Sun, police have continued to investigate the theft and have now sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in the hopes that the case can finally be closed. As for the golden bowl itself, titled “America”, authorities are hesitant to say it will ever be returned.
In 2021 Matthew Barber, police and crime commissioner for the Thames Valley, told the BBC that “recovering the toilet would be a challenge…If you have that large amount of gold, I think it seems likely that someone has already managed to dispose of it one way or another. It would be great if we can recover it and return it but personally, I’m not convinced it’s still in quite the same form it was.”
Scotland Yard’s Charlie Hill, the late art detective who helped recover Edvard Munch’s The Scream after it was stolen from the National Museum in Oslo, agreed at the time, positing that the toilet may have been cut up, then melted down and turned into jewelry.
The 18-carat golden toilet was displayed at the Guggenheim Museum in 2016. For nearly one full year, visitors were able to visit the “a cipher for the excesses of affluence” and even use it “in the privacy of one of the Guggenheim’s single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms.” It was even once offered to former president Donald Trump after his request to borrow Van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow from the museum was denied.
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