Dragons and goblins are not the only creatures who love gold. Men do, too.
That’s why, in 2019, four men decided to make away with a golden toilet worth about $6 million. It took four years to finally charge the men.
What is “America?”
“America” is the nickname given to the 18-carat golden toilet stolen from a palace in southern England.
The expensive toilet, which was part of an exhibition by an Italian conceptual artist at Blenheim Palace, saddened many when someone stole it.
“America” is a fully functioning toilet valued at 4.8 million pounds ($5.9 million) and was last exhibited at Blenheim Palace, a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Given the toilet’s value, it is no surprise that some people gathered enough courage to steal it.
Who Stole the Golden Toilet From Blenheim Palace?
According to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), James Sheen, 39, was the mastermind behind the operation.
He was charged with one count of burglary and two counts relating to the transfer of criminal property. They charged Michael Jones, Fred Doe, and Bora Guccuk, all in their 30s, along with him.
The heist was carried out on September 14, 2019, just before 5 am, according to a Police report. Sheen and his accomplices reportedly broke into the palace with two vehicles they used to move the toilet.
It is not clear if the toilet has been recovered, and authorities made no immediate comment on its status.
More Than Four People Were Arrested, but Only Four Were Charged
Since “America,” the Golden Toilet was stolen in 2019, a total of seven arrests have been made over the early morning heist. However, no charges were brought until four years later.
Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of revolutionary leader Winston Churchill, said in 2019 that the theft of the artwork was saddening. It had been previously on display at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
Some Details About the Toilet’s Background
According to the Guggenheim Museum, where it was previously exhibited, the toilet was created by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan in 2016.
Cattelan called it a commentary on the “ever-increasing divide between the wealthy and the poor” in the United States. The toilet, named “America,” was moved to Blenheim Palace in September 2019, only a few days before it was stolen.
More Details on the Toilet
Before it was stolen, the golden toilet was fully functional. Guests at Blenheim Palace and the New York-based Guggenheim Museum, where the toilet was first installed in 2016, were welcome to use it.
Nevertheless, visitors were allowed to reserve a three-minute appointment to use it. According to the museum, “America” invited viewers to engage the fixture “individually and privately,” thereby enjoying an “unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”
Who Wanted to Use a Golden Toilet?
According to the Guggenheim Museum, over 100,000 people would get in a queue to use the toilet.
The toilet was installed in one of the museum’s gender-neutral bathrooms. When they removed it from Blenheim Palace, which was built in the 18th century, it caused “significant damage and flood” to the building.
What Happened to the Toilet?
Now that Sheen and his cohorts have been caught. You’re probably wondering what happened to the golden mass they stole.
The truth is — nobody knows. British officials have been unable to locate the toilet since it was stolen. According to Matthew Barber, police and crime commissioner for the Thames Valley, “recovering the toilet would be a challenge.”
Speculations on What Really Happened to the Golden Toilet
Aside from pointing out how challenging it would be to recover the toilet, Barber also wondered if the toilet had not been melted down.
There are also speculations that the stolen toilet was hidden at an undisclosed location. However, the culprit has denied the claims.
Will We Ever See That Toilet Again?
Barber has suggested that it may no longer be in the form of the toilet. This would leave them with a considerable amount of gold they would have quickly worked to dispose of.
Nonetheless, On November 28, 2023, the four suspects would appear before a Judge at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.