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Installation view of Maurizio Cattelan’s “Victory is Not an Option” at Blenheim Palace. Photo: Tom Lindboe.

Maurizio Cattelan’s Solid Gold Toilet Stolen from Blenheim Palace

An artwork by the Italian provocateur Maurizio Cattelan—a solid eighteen-karat gold toilet worth about $5 million—was stolen from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, over the weekend. Titled America, the piece was on display in “Victory Is Not an Option,” Cattelan’s first solo exhibition in the UK in more than twenty years. A sixty-six-year-old man was detained shortly after the heist but was not charged.

According to the New York Times, the police said that the working toilet was taken early Saturday and that the thieves caused “significant damage and flooding” to the building, which is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The authorities believe that at least two vehicles were used to carry out the crime and that the toilet had vanished by 4:50 AM.

After learning of the theft, the artist told the New York Times that he thought the crime was a prank. “America was the 1 percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood–inspired action,” Cattelan said.

The toilet made headlines last year when the chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Nancy Spector, offered it to the US president and first lady, Donald and Melania Trump, in lieu of a Van Gogh painting that they had asked to borrow.

“Victory Is Not an Option,” opened on Thursday and is on view until October 27.

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