Someone Has Stolen a Solid Gold Toilet Worth $5 Million

updated Jul 16, 2020
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Credit: Leon Neal / Getty Images

That’s right, a solid gold toilet exists, it’s valued at $5-6 million, and someone has stolen it. 

We first learned about the luxe commode when it arrived in 2016, fully usable, in a restroom at the Guggenheim Museum. Two years later, the museum used it to troll the Trump White House. In response to the administration’s request to borrow another piece exhibited at the Guggenheim, Vincent van Gogh’s much more conventional “Landscape with Snow,” Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector offered to loan the White House the toilet instead.

Officially called “America,” the functioning toilet was created from 18-karat gold by artist Maurizio Cattelan. It was stolen from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, where it was part of a solo exhibit by Cattelan called “Victory is Not an Option,” which opened September 12 and runs through October 27. Like at the Guggenheim, the toilet was installed in a bathroom. Visitors could book three-minute sessions to use it, according to Dezeen.

Because of the strangeness of the robbery, which took place on September 14, some people have speculated that the heist is a publicity stunt or an act of performance art, like Banksy’s destruction of his own work, “Girl with Balloon” at its auction sale. In a statement to The New York Times, Cattelan denied that he was in on the theft.

“I wish it was a prank,” he said, though he also added, “I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.”

To Dezeen, the artist said, “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.”

Whether the heist was an artistic statement or just an act of theft, the metaphors write themselves.