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Blenheim Palace’s newly installed £1million 18-carat golden toilet was stolen overnight. The working toilet which went on display on Thursday was stolen in the early hours of Saturday, Sept 14th night and is still missing, Thames Valley Police reports.
The incident happened at the palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, just before 5 am, and “caused significant damage and flooding,” police said. Police also confirmed a 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in police custody.
The loo had been unveiled as part of an art exhibition titled ‘America’ at Winston Churchill’s birthplace this week. Visitors had to book a time slot for the loo in advance and told to respect the three-minute rule, imposed to reduce queuing times.
Police confirmed they were called just before 5am this morning and said no one had been injured in the incident.
Detective Inspector Jess Milne, said: “The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace. “Due to the toilet being plumbed into the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.
“We believe a group offenders used at least two vehicles during the offence.
“The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.
“Residents will see an increased police presence in the area while officers and staff carry out enquiries.
“I am appealing to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area to contact police.
“You can call us on 101, quoting URN 273 (14/9), visit our website or visit a police station.”
In a press conference at around 2.30pm today Inspector Richard Nicholls said he could not confirm how the group got onto the premises. He said crime scene experts were still on site gathering evidence and police were checking CCTV
Blenheim Palace said the building will be closed for the rest of the day.
In a statement, the palace’s CEO Dominic Hare said: ‘Following the Thames Valley Police statement we can confirm ‘America’, the art piece by Maurizio Cattelan has been stolen in the early hours of this morning.
“We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt.
“We are very grateful to our staff and to Thames Valley Police for their rapid and brave reactions.
“We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many sets to come and enjoy the installations.
“It’s therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share.
The gold toilet was made by artist Maurizio Cattelan in 2016 to represent America’s wealth and excess and spent a year on the 5th floor of the Guggenheim, installed for museum visitors to use.
The Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation Edward Spencer-Churchill told the Times: “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a s*** on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it.”
He added: “It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick.
“Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”
The investigation continues, but it will be business as usual from tomorrow, so visitors can continue to come and experience all we have to offer.