On Monday, four individuals were accused in connection with the larceny of an 18-karat gold toilet from Blenheim Palace, the expansive English country mansion and birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.
The commode, which was assessed at 4.8 million pounds ($5.95 million), was an artwork bearing the title “America” and was created by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan as a pointed satire on excessive wealth. It had been a component of an artistic installation at Blenheim Palace, situated in close proximity to the city of Oxford, for a few days prior to its abrupt disappearance in September 2019.
In connection with the larceny, the Crown Prosecution Service authorized criminal charges against four individuals, aged 35 to 39, on Monday. A burglary charge and a conspiracy to transfer illicit property are brought against them.
Although seven individuals were arrested in connection with the commode theft, charges were not filed until Monday, four years later. Not a single piece of artwork has been located.
In addition to its operational state, the gilded commode was accessible to exhibition attendees by scheduling a three-minute appointment prior to its theft. Due to the toilet’s connection to the palace’s drainage system, its removal, according to the police, caused “significant damage and flooding” to the 18th-century structure, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its priceless furnishings and artwork and which annually attracts thousands of visitors.
Guggenheim’s Lavish Artwork and the Elusive Recovery
The restroom at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, where the artwork was displayed before its exhibition at Blenheim Palace, was described as “encrusted with 18-karat gold.”
The museum stated that the artwork encouraged visitors to “privately and individually utilize the fixture” in order to attain a “unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”
The Thames Valley Police, which was conducting an investigation into the larceny, estimated in 2021 that recovering the commode would be a “challenge.”
“Will that restroom be visible to us again?” “To be candid, I am rather intrigued as to whether or not it resembles a lavatory,” said Matthew Barber, the police and crime commissioner, in an interview with the BBC. “In the event that one possesses such a substantial quantity of gold, it seems probable that it has already been disposed of in some fashion.”
Prosecutors stated that the four suspects will appear before the Oxford Magistrates’ Court on November 28.