The piece in question was America, a famous artwork of Maurizio Cattelan. The gold toilet was opened to public view on Thursday in Blenheim Palace. However, on Saturday morning, the official Twitter handle of the gallery posted that the work will not be on display anymore after an unforeseen incident. They also announced that the gallery would remain closed for the day, presumably for a police investigation.
America was first unravelled in 2016 by Cattelan in Blenheim, after a 5-year hiatus. The model was made of 18-karat gold and was estimated to be worth $1 million. Exhibited in the 18th-century palace, the radiant contrast of the gold toilet naturally made it a source of curiosity among all. At that time, the toilet was functional. It was once offered to the White House to add to their art collection, though was rejected. It returned to Blenheim Palace this year and was to remain on public view till October 27th. The art event, titled “Victory Is Not An Option”, hosted a variety of new works. But America was undoubtedly one of its centres of attracting. As such, the disappearance of the artwork has caused a sensation among art enthusiasts.
Officials of Blenheim Palace were quick to offer their statements. Edward Spencer-Churchill, CEO of Blenheim, said:
We are shocked and saddened by this news and are working with the Police to restore the artwork to the exhibition as soon as possible.
Dominic Hare, the CEO of the gallery, said:
We hope against hope that we can recover this precious work of art. It is deeply ironic that a work of art portraying the American Dream and the idea of an elite object made available to all should be almost instantly snatched away and hidden from view
Maurizio Cattelan himself was unavailable immediately for a comment on the incident. However, he later rubbished the rumours that he had orchestrated the heist.
The police are naturally acting quickly who nab the person behind this daring theft. A 66-year old man was arrested hours later in connection to the theft. But he was released on bail the next day. Police believe that a gang of art thieves must be behind the incident.