The Moment - Feb 22, 2020

Maurizio Cattelan's Gold Toilet Artwork 'America' Is Stolen From Blenheim Palace Exhibit

  • September 14, 2019 12:33

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Installation view of Maurizio Cattelan's America (2016) at Blenheim Palace, 2019.
Photo by Tom Lin.

On Saturday morning, the interactive artwork that is an 18-karat solid gold toilet titled America -- part of a Maurizio Cattelan exhibition at Blenheim Palace in the UK -- disappeared.

The burglary took place at the 18th-century palace, known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a World Heritage Site, just before 5 a.m., according to reports. A 66-year-old man was taken into custody, but the purloined piece remains missing.

Detective Inspector Jess Milne, said in a statement: "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."

America is an iconic sculpture...and a fully-functional toilet. It could be worth around $5 million. Some fear that the piece will be melted down for its value in gold.

When the piece was forcibly removed by the thieves from Churchill's water closet, an unknown amount of damage was done. The palace was closed on Saturday.

Last year, the golden toilet was famously offered to U.S. President Donald Trump in lieu of a van Gogh that the White House requested as a loan from the Guggenheim Museum collection in New York.

Cattelan's sculpture represents “a cipher for the excesses of affluence” and was created in response to Trump's decision to run for President. It was earlier on display in a single unisex bathroom that was visited by over 100,000 people at the Guggenheim.

America, explains the Guggenheim's description, is “like all of Cattelan’s most complex works...laden with possible meanings.” 

Cattelan described the piece “as 1 percent art for the 99 percent.”

"Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace" is on view to October 27, 2019.
Blenheim Palace

Blenheim will continue to exhibit works by the famed Italian Conceptual artist through October 27. Cattelan's work, featuring iconic and some new pieces, is installed throughout the stately home's interiors -- except for one bathroom. 

Read more at NBC

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