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Man, 66, arrested after £1m golden toilet stolen from Blenheim Palace

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 14/09/2019 Jamie Johnson

a close up of a red door: The solid gold toilet, made by Maurizio Cattelan, is worth £1m © Leon Neal/Getty Images The solid gold toilet, made by Maurizio Cattelan, is worth £1m A£1m solid gold toilet has been stolen from Blenheim Palace in an audacious overnight burglary, police said today.

The 18ct lavatory, designed by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was part of a new exhibition at the country home where Winston Churchill was born, and was ripped out and driven away in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The piece is called "America", and had had been plumbed into the water system so that visitors could fully engage with the artwork, as long as they obeyed a three-minute time slot.

a castle with water in front of Blenheim Palace: No-one was injured in the nighttime raid at Blenheim Palace © Leon Neal/Getty Images No-one was injured in the nighttime raid at Blenheim Palace Police have arrested a 66-year-old man in connection with the theft, but confirmed that the golden toilet is still missing and that there was "significant damage and flooding". 

Detective Inspector Jess Milne, from Thames Valley Police said: “The piece of art that has been stolen is a high value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace.

“Due to the toilet being plumbed in to the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.

“We believe a group of offenders used at least two vehicles during the offence.

The toilet was plumbed into the water system at Blenheim Palace © Heathcliff O'Malley The toilet was plumbed into the water system at Blenheim Palace “The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.

“Residents will see an increased police presence in the area while officers and staff carry out enquiries.

“I am appealing to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area to contact police."

They said that the force received a report of a burglary at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, at 4.57am today, adding that the offenders broke into the palace overnight and left the scene at about 4.50am.

No one was injured during the burglary.

The artwork had previously drawn huge crowds at New York's Guggenheim museum when it first went on display in 2016 and was later offered to Donald Trump, in a satirical jibe at the President.

An event site design company who work at the Palace also posted on social media: "We've had some drama overnight which I won't elaborate on just yet but it has meant we need to redirect our contractor traffic for the day."

Blenheim Palace has today been closed to the public. In a statement, they said: "

a castle on top of Blenheim Palace: No-one was injured in the nighttime raid at Blenheim Palace Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited No-one was injured in the nighttime raid at Blenheim Palace Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images Following the Thames Valley Police statement we can confirm ‘America’, the art piece by Maurizio Cattelan has been stolen in the early hours of this morning. 

"We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt.

"We are very grateful to our staff and to Thames Valley Police for their rapid and brave reactions. We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations.

"It’s therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share.

"The investigation continues, but it will be business as usual from tomorrow, so visitors can continue to come and experience all we have to offer.

a close up of a door: The solid gold toilet, made by Maurizio Cattelan, is worth £1m - Getty Images Europe © Leon Neal/Getty Images The solid gold toilet, made by Maurizio Cattelan, is worth £1m - Getty Images Europe "If anyone knows or saw anything suspicious in connection with the event that may help us secure its return please contact Thames Valley Police."

Edward Spencer-Churchill, half-brother of the current Duke of Marlborough and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, told the Sunday Times last month: “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a s*** on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it."

Asked if he was worried about security, he said: "It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick.

“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.”

Cattelan's artwork only went on display two days ago and is due to run until October 27.

This is the Italian's first solo exhibition in the UK in twenty years and features new works displayed for the first time.

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