Search for ‘America,’ a.k.a. the golden toilet, continues

Search for ‘America,’ a.k.a. the golden toilet, continues
Marketplace  -   Trafficking

The search for what is easily the most ‘luxurious loo,’ as one BBC article put it, in the world continues, but three more suspects have been arrested by police. The toilet, entitled America by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, was part of an exhibition of works by the artist at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire. ‘Victory is Not an Option’ is his first solo exhibition in the UK and the palace is dotted with Cattelan’s works, and the toilet? Cattelan invited visitors to use it. That is, however, until the early hours of September 14th when the entire toilet, which was plumbed and all, was stolen from the palace. The theft flooded the bathroom, once used by Churchill himself, and incited an ongoing investigation by police.

The bathroom, which contained ‘America,’ after the toilet was stolen. Photo via Blenheim Palace.

America is made of solid 18-karat gold, valued at around £4.8 million ($6 million), and went on view at the palace only days before it was stolen. The exhibition has continued, and closes this weekend, but the palace website warns visitors that the toilet’s whereabouts are still unknown. Some worry that by now, America has been melted down for its gold as it would yield about 103 kilograms of pure gold, which is valued at about £1,165 ($1,500) per troy ounce, according to a precious metals dealer cited by The New York Times. Thus, the toilet, if destroyed could produce around £3.1 million ($4 million) alone. Though the chances of finding it in tact are becoming slimmer, the search for America continues. ‘I wish it was a prank,’ Cattelan said after learning of the heist and stating that the theft was not done as part of the exhibition or his own doing. He continued saying the it ‘is deadly serious if even a little bit surreal since the subject of the robbery was a toilet.’

Fine Arts Specie Adjusters, the palace’s insurance company, have offered a £100,000 reward to anyone who might provide information that leads to the toilet and to the thieves who took it. According to the BBC, who first reported the news, on October 16th, three more people were arrested on suspicion to commit a burglary. The two men and woman all live in Oxford, which is the closest city to the palace. The men, ages 34 and 35, and the woman, age 36, have since been released under investigation. This series of arrests followed the earlier arrests of two other suspects, a 66-year-old Eversham man who was arrested on the same day as the theft before being released on bail and a 36-year-old Cheltenham man who was arrested but released under investigation.

America was the one percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is,’ Cattelan told The New York Times. ‘I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.’ The search, though continues, and hopefully police will soon figure out what happened to the golden loo.


Read more on art theft, old and new:

Man steals $20,000 Salvador Dalí from San Fran gallery

Lost and found: a stolen de Kooning makes its debut

One of the most prolific art thieves has been arrested…again