September 15, 2019 3:31:20 pm
(Written by Kaly Soto)
The golden loo is gone.
A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled “America” by its creator Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.
The toilet was part of a larger exhibit featuring Cattelan’s work that began on Thursday.
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As befits someone who would make a toilet out of gold, Cattelan’s response to the theft was a bit, um, cheeky.
“At first, when they woke me up this morning with the news,” he said, “I thought it was a prank: Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? I had forgotten for a second that it was made out of gold.”
He said of the work: “‘America’ was the one 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.”
The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered.
Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft “caused significant damage and flooding.” He said the police believed a “group of offenders” using at least two vehicles was behind the theft.
Pure gold is currently valued at nearly $1,500 per ounce, and 18-karat gold is 75% pure, said Peter Pienta, an accredited precious metals dealer in Wakefield, Massachusetts, who has been buying and selling gold for nearly 50 years.
Cattelan said the piece was made out of 103 kilograms of gold, which would make the toilet worth more than $4 million if it were melted down, according to Pienta’s calculation.
Dominic Hare, the chief executive of Blenheim Palace, said he hoped the art piece would be recovered.
“It is deeply ironic that a work of art portraying the American dream and the idea of an elite object made available to all should be almost instantly snatched away and hidden from view,” he said.
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