A functional, solid gold toilet dubbed “America” had been the focal point of a new art installation, housed in Winston Churchill’s childhood home of Blenheim Palace. But after being on display for only two days the 18-karat, multi-million-dollar toilet has been stolen.
On September 14th, the newly unveiled highlight of the art exhibition “Victory is Not an Option” by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was stolen. And because it was a fully-functioning toilet, the theft caused massive flooding damage to the historic palace. In fact, the room where Winston Churchill was born was directly next to where the toilet had been displayed.
The toilet is still missing from the UNESCO World Heritage site, and authorities have no leads as to where it has gone. They believe the theft was an organized effort involving multiple people and vehicles. Before its theft, visitors could actually book three-minute time slots to use the toilet. In a press release prior to the opening of the exhibition, Edward Spencer-Churchill said it would not be easy to steal the golden throne because it was connected to the palace’s plumbing. When the news was first broke to Cattelan, the artist was in disbelief. “Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet?” he thought.
Blenheim Palace has been in the Churchill family since 1704, and was a gift from Queen Anne. It was first opened to the public in 1950, and in 2014 the Blenehim Art Foundation was created to hold art exhibitions for the public.
If recovered, do you think the toilet will be reinstated as a part of the art exhibit, or will the function continue on without it? Would you want your own three-minute time slot to use a solid gold toilet?