Gold toilet stolen in raid at Blenheim Palace
14 September 2019, 12:24 | Updated: 14 September 2019, 20:08
Burglars have snatched a solid gold toilet worth £4.8m in a raid at Blenheim Palace.
The 18-carat loo was taken after it was put on display a few days ago.
Police confirmed there had been a burglary at the palace just before 5am and the toilet has not yet been found.
Thames Valley Police said a man aged 66 had been arrested.
Det Insp Jess Milne, 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 artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice."
The palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, was closed today and was set to re-open at 2pm.
The toilet was taken in the early hours of this morning.
Blenheim Palace chief executive Dominic Hare urged anyone with any information about the theft to contact police.
He said: "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.
"If anyone knows or saw anything suspicious in connection with the event that may help us secure its return please contact Thames Valley Police."
Last month, ahead of the toilet's installation, the Duke of Marlborough's half-brother, Edward Spencer-Churchill, said the lavatory wouldn't be "the easiest thing to nick".
Mr Spencer-Churchill told the Times: ""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."
Blenheim Palace said in a statement on Twitter: “Due to an unforeseen incident at the Palace we are closed until lunchtime. The Park will remain open.”
They later added: "We can confirm there was an incident overnight which has led to Blenheim Palace being closed until 2pm today. We are working closely with Thames Valley Police and would direct any media enquiries to them at this stage.
"We hope to be able to make a fuller statement later today but do not want to do anything which could interfere with the police’s ongoing investigations."
Visitors to Blenheim Palace were required to book a time slot to view the fully functioning toilet in advance and were limited to viewings of three minutes.
The work of art was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.