A £4.8m golden toilet nabbed from Blenheim Palace in a smash-and-grab could be melted down by thieves, it was warned today.
The 18-carat loo was nicked in the early hours of Saturday morning – just two days after going on display at Winston Churchill’s birthplace in Woodstock, Oxon.
And the palace’s chief executive Dominic Hare today said he feared the fully-functioning masterpiece, created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, could be destroyed by opportunist thieves.
He told BBC 5 Live it was “not out of the question [the toilet] would be melted down” by the thieves.
Mr Hare added that it was the “first theft of this type in living memory” from the estate, which had a sophisticated security system.
The building experienced “significant damage and flooding” when the toilet was ripped from the wall.
It came as police vowed they were “making every effort” to find those responsible, and the stolen loo, after being called just before 5am yesterday.
A 66-year-old man was arrested in connection with the burglary and remains in custody.
The toilet had gone on display last week with visitors were able to use the expensive toilet – once offered to Donald Trump – in three-minute slots.
It was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and proved popular when it went on display at the Guggenheim museum in New York in 2016.
[It’s] not out of the question [the toilet] would be melted down” by the thieves
Previously, Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation Edward Spencer-Churchill previously told the Times: “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a s*** on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it.”
He also explained it “wouldn’t be the easiest thing to nick”, adding: “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.”
FIND THE LOO
Blenheim Palace announced the palace doors were open “as usual” after appealing for information over the theft of the golden toilet.
They wrote yesterday: “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.”
Investigating officer Detective Inspector Jess Milne said today: “We are following a number of lines of enquiry and there will continue to be a police presence in and around the area of Blenheim Palace while our investigations continue.
“We are making every effort to locate the offenders and the toilet that was stolen.”
MOST READ IN NEWS
Blenheim Palace, the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, is an English country house located Near Woodstock, in Oxfordshire.
The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.
Following the palace’s completion, it became the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years.
If anybody has any information relating to this incident, please call the 24-hour non-emergency number 101, quoting URN 273 (14/9) or make a report online. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.