A gold toilet was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England in 2019, and four men have been charged with maybe the world’s funniest theft.
The gold toilet is an artwork named “America.” The artist, Italian Maurizio Cattelan, made it in 2016 out of solid 18-karat gold as a commentary on ostentatious wealth. Initially, it was made for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and was actually installed in the museum’s restrooms for public use. Fully functionally, and cast to match common Kohler toilets, it weights over 225 lbs and is valued at over $4 million for the gold alone. As a work of art, it’s been evaluated at approximately $6 million.
In September 2019, it was moved to the U.K. to be installed in the Blenheim Palace as part of an exhibition on Cattelan’s works. It was placed in a water closet used by the child Winston Churchill, who was born in the palace in 1874. Less than two weeks later, it vanished. Because it was plumbed in, the theft caused flooding in the historic mansion, which helped hide any evidence. Six arrests were made in the months following the theft, but all had to be released without charge For a long time, speculation has run rampant about the fate of the gold toilet.
The artist, at least, has always had a bright view of the theft. “I always liked heist movies and finally I’m in one of them,” he commented. Some theorize that the theft is a prank by Cattelan himself.
On Monday, November 6 2023, four men were finally charged in the theft, even though the toilet has never been found.
“Will we ever see that toilet again? Personally I wonder if it’s in the shape of a toilet to be perfectly honest,” police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber told the BBC. “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.”