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Maurizio Cattelan’s America, 2016, at the Blenheim Palace. Photo: Tom Lindboe. Courtesy of the Blenheim Art Foundation.

Three Suspects in Gold Toilet Heist Arrested by Police

British police have made three more arrests in connection with the theft of an artwork by Maurizio Cattelan. Titled America, the solid eighteen-karat gold toilet, which is valued at approximately $5 million, was stolen from Blenheim Palace—the birthplace of Winston Churchill—in Oxfordshire, England, in the early-morning hours of September 14.

According to the BBC, a thirty-five-year-old man, a thirty-four-year-old man, and a thirty-six-year-old woman from Oxford were detained on suspicion of conspiring to commit burglary. The authorities had previously arrested two people, including one on the same day as the crime. The first, a sixty-six-year-old man, was released on bail, and the second, a thirty-six-year-old man from the town of Cheltenham, was also released.

Since the artwork, a functioning toilet that visitors to the palace could use, was hastily removed from a bathroom, the thieves caused “significant damage and flooding” in the historic eighteenth-century building. The work was included in the exhibition “Victory Is Not an Option,” the artist’s first show in the UK in twenty years, and was supposed to remain on view until October 27.

The toilet had debuted at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2016—more than one hundred thousand visitors waited up to two hours in line to sit on America—where it remained for an entire year. The current whereabouts of the piece, which is insured, are unknown. While the authorities are still trying to recover the toilet, they have expressed fears that it will be melted down into gold bars. Whereas some wondered if the theft was a prank staged by the artist, the Italian provocateur assured the New York Times that he played no part in the golden loo’s disappearance.