Authorities have pressed charges against four individuals in connection with the theft of a golden toilet from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, the CPS disclosed on Monday. The opulent 18-carat gold lavatory, valued at nearly £4.8 million, is a creation of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and had been featured at the historical site close to Oxford just days before it was reported missing in September 2019.
The quartet, whose ages range from 35 to 39, are now facing allegations of burglary and conspiracy to transfer criminal property, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The stolen piece, named “America,” served as a critical commentary on wealth disparity and was designed as a functional toilet. Prior to the theft, the Blenheim Palace exhibition allowed patrons to reserve time to utilize the facility.
Despite extensive efforts, the whereabouts of the golden toilet remain unknown. Its forceful extraction not only left the artwork missing but also resulted in substantial damage and flooding to the palace, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, which houses an extensive collection of art and furniture and is a popular destination for tourists.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York, which previously displayed “America,” describes the piece as a work of art that offers a unique, private interaction for the viewer.
The accused are scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the Oxford Magistrates’ Court on November 28, as per the prosecution’s statement.