London — Thieves have stolen a solid gold toilet worth up to $1.25 million from the birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill. The toilet, the work of Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, had been installed only two days earlier at Blenheim Palace, west of London, after previously being shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
The toilet was taken early Saturday by thieves who used at least two vehicles, police said. Because the golden toilet had been connected to the palace’s plumbing system, police said its removal caused “significant damage and flooding” to the building.
A 66-year-old man was arrested, but the toilet was not recovered. Prior to the theft, visitors to the Cattelan exhibition could book a three-minute appointment to use the toilet.
Last month, Edward Spencer-Churchill, the founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, said he wasn’t concerned about the artwork being stolen.
“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick,” Spencer-Churchill told the Times of London. “Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”