Four years ago, a fully functioning 18-karat gold toilet was stolen from an art exhibition at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
On Monday, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announced that it had authorized charges against four men in connection with the theft of the golden loo — an artwork by the Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, titled “America,” which had been on display as part of an exhibition at the palace, which is in Oxfordshire, England.
The Crown Prosecution Service said in a news release that it had charged James Sheen, 39, with burglary, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and transferring criminal property; Michael Jones, 38, with burglary; and Fred Doe, 35, and Bora Guccuk, 39, with conspiracy to transfer criminal property.
The four men will appear at a court in Oxford, England, on Nov. 28 for the first stage in potentially lengthy criminal proceedings. Britain’s courts system has a severe backlog in cases.
The toilet, which was valued at £4.8 million, or around $5.9 million, made headlines worldwide long before its theft. In 2016, Mr. Cattelan installed it at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where it became a social media sensation, with visitors lining up to pay it a visit.
In September 2019, it was installed as part of the exhibition of Mr. Cattelan’s work at Blenheim Palace, the stately home of Churchill’s family. The toilet had been installed, so its removal, apparently during an early morning raid, caused a minor flood.
Shortly after the robbery, Mr. Cattelan told The New York Times in an email that his first reaction was to think it was a prank. “Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet?” he said. He “had forgotten for a second that it was made out of gold,” he added.
Mr. Cattelan later said the toilet was one of three versions that were made.