A gang has stolen in the British Blenheim Palace, a more than five-million-euro gold toilet. The magnificent castle near Oxford is the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965).
A 66-year-old man was arrested after the theft, the police said on Saturday. "We believe a group of perpetrators used at least two vehicles," said Crime Inspector Jess Milne.
At the scene in the castle, which is more than 300 years old, "considerable damage and a flood," the police said. The Blenheim Palace in County Oxfordshire is one of the most famous castles in England and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A permanent exhibition is dedicated to Churchill.
The theft took place early Saturday, shortly after an exhibition opening in the castle about the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan (58). He had also created the precious toilet called "America". His installation was fully functional and could even be used by visitors - but only for a maximum of three minutes to avoid queuing.
The owners of the palace may be embarrassed by the theft. For last month, a family member had joked before installing the toilet in the castle that the toilet is hardly steal: "First, it is firmly connected. And secondly, a potential thief would have no idea who was using it and what the person was eating, "said Edward Spencer-Churchill of The Times. He does not plan to have the installation guarded.
According to Blenheim Palace, the artwork is worth about six million dollars (about 5.4 million euros). At first, British media had written just over a million euros. The toilet was in September 2016 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York to see. There it had been installed in a toilet room and could be used for many months by the visitors. Before that, long queues always formed.
The installation "America" offers an "experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art," says the museum. "Cattelan's toilet points to the excesses of the art market, but also suggests the American dream of unlimited opportunity for all." Cattellan spoke in the New York Times on the occasion of the US exhibition of serious art. "It is not my job to tell people what a work means. But I believe that people will see meaning in this work. "
The loo was on loan to the US President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post. The curator responsible for design in the White House had asked the Guggenheim whether the painting "Landscape in the Snow" by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh was available on loan.
The museum refused and instead offered the toilet in consultation with the artist. "It's of course very valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the installation and care instructions," the newspaper quoted from a letter from the museum to the White House.