Tuesday 15 October 2019

Golden toilet - worth £1m - reportedly stolen from palace

Undated handout photo issued by Blenheim Palace of a solid gold toilet, which has been stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Photo: Jacopo Zotti (Guggenheim Museum 2016)/PA Wire
Undated handout photo issued by Blenheim Palace of a solid gold toilet, which has been stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Photo: Jacopo Zotti (Guggenheim Museum 2016)/PA Wire
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 15, 2016, a fully functioning solid gold toilet, made by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, is going into public use at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. (Photo by William EDWARDS / AFP)WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Blenheim Palace. A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from the palace. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Caitlin Doherty

A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from Blenheim Palace.

The loo - part of an art exhibition at Winston Churchill's birthplace - was apparently taken in the early hours of Saturday.

Local radio station Jack FM said it had received unconfirmed reports that the solid gold art installation was stolen in the early hours, but was later recovered by Thames Valley Police (TVP).

EventSite Design, who work at the Palace, said on Twitter: "We've had some drama overnight which I won't elaborate on just yet but it has meant we need to redirect our contractor traffic for the day."

Blenheim Palace. A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from the palace. Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Blenheim Palace. A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from the palace. Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The golden lavatory, on display at the Oxfordshire estate, was designed by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, and drew large crowds when it was exhibited in New York.

The loo, named America, had been plumbed in at the palace and was available for visitors to use.

Blenheim Palace tweeted on Saturday morning: "Due to an unforeseen incident at the Palace we are closed until lunchtime."

Inspector Richard Nicholls, from Thames Valley Police, said: "Thames Valley Police is investigating the burglary of a piece of art from Blenheim Palace in the early hours of this morning.

"A group of offenders broke into the palace and stole a high value toilet made out of gold that was on display.

"We believe they used at least two vehicles during the offence and left the scene at around 4.50am.

Blenheim Palace. A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from the palace. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Blenheim Palace. A golden toilet worth £1 million has reportedly been stolen from the palace. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

"The artwork has not been recovered at this time, but there is a thorough investigation being carried out.

"A 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with this incident and he is currently in police custody.

"There will be an increased police presence in the local area while officers and staff carry out enquiries."

Speaking at a press conference earlier today, he said: "We are aware they left about 4.50am this morning. CCTV is one of the aspects we are looking on and that will come out in due course."

When asked if he believed a reception party held on the same night of the exhibition's launch could be connected, Insp Nicholls said: "I am not aware of the reception party personally, but that would form part of our enquiries in order to ascertain events leading up to the item being stolen."

Asked if anything else was stolen, he added: "As far as I am aware we are just looking at that high value item."

Insp Nicholls said he "can't give any comment" as to how access to the property was made, adding: "It would be speculation at the moment."

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