Golden toilet reportedly worth millions stolen from art exhibit
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A solid 18-karat gold toilet possibly worth more than $4 million was stolen Saturday from an art exhibit in the family home of Winston Churchill. 

The toilet, titled “America,” was created by Maurizio Cattelan. It was on display in a larger exhibit featuring Cattelan’s work at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. 

“At first, when they woke me up this morning with the news,” Cattelan said in an email to The New York Times, “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.” 

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“I wish it was a prank,” Cattelan added, saying that the theft “is deadly serious if even a little bit surreal since the subject of the robbery was a toilet.”

The work was intended to satirize wealth in America, and Cattelan said he hoped “the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.

Local police said in a statement that they were investigating the robbery, and they have arrested a 66-year-old man in connection to the incident, although he has not been charged.

Jess Milne, a detective inspector, told The New York Times that the toilet was plumbed to the building, so the robbery “caused significant damage and flooding.” He added that the police currently believe a “group of offenders” using at least two vehicles executed the theft. 

Peter Pienta, an accredited precious metals dealer in Wakefield, Massachusetts, said the toilet could be worth more than $4 million if melted down for the gold, The New York Times reported.

“That is a very, very valuable toilet,” Pienta said. “If they had a refinery or gold smelting equipment ready, it could be melted into gold bars in days and there would be no way to trace them. They could really go into any place that would buy a bullion.”

Dominic Hare, the chief executive of Blenheim Palace, said officials hoped the art piece will be found and returned.

“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,” Hare told The New York Times.

The toilet was installed in 2016 at the Guggenheim in New York City, and museum officials said at the time that “more than 100,000 people have waited patiently in line for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature.”