A solid 18-carat gold toilet, worth £5 million, was stolen from Blenheim Palace in the early hours of Sunday, September 15, 2019 and remains missing.
The golden lavatory went on display two days ago and was designed by controversial Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
It was installed as part of a new exhibition at the Oxfordshire palace, the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in November 1874.
Visitors to Blenheim Palace were able to use the five million-pound toilet and were allocated a strict three-minute time slot.
Thames Valley Police confirmed the toilet was stolen and a 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the theft and remains in police custody
Dominic Hare, chief executive officer of Blenheim Palace, told the BBC the toilet is valued at about six million dollars and was a ‘very precious piece’.
He said the theft of the solid gold toilet ‘was a huge shock’.
‘Staff were instantly aware of what happened and police arrived very, very quickly indeed,’ he added.
When asked if the artist had been contacted, he said: ‘There were some slightly nervous calls at 6am but we have spoken to the artist and Lord Edward at the art foundation, and many of the trustees, and they have been magnificent in their support.’
Mr Hare added: ‘We have a sophisticated security set-up here and we have had no loss of this kind in living memory, which probably reflects the quality of that operation.
‘The events of the last 24 hours mean we may have reason to reconsider some of our systems.’
He was also asked whether a party, which took place at the palace on Friday night, could have created an opportunity for the theft.
In response, he said: ‘We have been asked not to comment on the investigation. But there was a clear time separation between those things.
‘There is always a risk when you display valuable art to the public, but it is worth that risk, even now, it was still worth that risk.’
Confirming that the palace would reopen on Sunday following repair works, Mr Hare explained: ‘We’ve now got a huge hole where there was once a golden toilet.’
Detective Inspector 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.’
Inspector Richard Nicholls added: ‘We are aware they left about 4.50am this morning. CCTV is one of the aspects we are looking on and that will come out in due course.’
When asked if he believed a reception party held on the same night of the exhibition’s launch could be connected, Insp Nicholls said: ‘I am not aware of the reception party personally, but that would form part of our enquiries in order to ascertain events leading up to the item being stolen.’
Insp Nicholls said he was only aware of the toilet being stolen and could not comment as to how the property was accessed.
The fully-functioning solid gold toilet was created by Cattelan for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where more than 100,000 people queued to use the security-guarded loo.
Now, after more than 20 years, the exhibition marks Cattelan’s first solo show in Britain.
To celebrate this, his most controversial works have been placed in and around the Palace in Oxfordshire to engage and contrast with its unique history. (Mail)