The stately home where former prime minister Winston Churchill was born housed an 18-carat-gold toilet. Authorities reported that someone stole the toilet around 5 a.m. Saturday morning, causing significant flood damage to the historic home. The toilet, valued at $5 million, was part of an exhibition by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan that opened Thursday.
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A group of thieves reportedly broke into the Blenheim Palace in Oxford and stole the working toilet at 4:50 a.m. Within seven minutes, police had arrived at the palace to find the toilet missing. The room that housed the toilet had suffered from “significant damage and flooding.”
According to the BBC, a 66-year-old man was arrested in connection to the heist, but it’s unclear if he was a lookout or part of the group of thieves.
Jess Milne, the lead detective on the case, issued a statement explaining how he thinks the thieves got away with the expensive one-of-a-kind toilet. “Due to the toilet being plumbed in to the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding, adding, “We believe a group offenders used at least two vehicles during the offense.”
“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,” Milne said. He added that they did not have any leads at this time and pleaded with the public for assistance.
The CEO of Blenheim Palace, Dominic Hare, issued a statement to CNN. “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,” he continued. “We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations.”
Hare added: “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.”
The investigation is still ongoing.