Four men charged over theft of £4.8 million gold toilet from Blenheim Palace

Working lavatory was part of an art exhibition by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan

'America', a fully-working solid gold toilet, at Blenheim Palace. Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

Four men have been charged over the theft of a gold toilet valued at £4.8 million from Blenheim Palace.

The working convenience, called America, was part of an art exhibition featuring several works by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan at the 18th century stately home in Woodstock, near Oxford, southern England.

Thieves broke in to the home, which is the birthplace of former prime minister Winston Churchill, while it was closing for the day in September 2019, and ripped out the lavatory, causing “significant damage and flooding”.

Visitors had been able to book time slots to use the 18-carat privy but only for three minutes at a time, to limit queues.

More than 100,000 people used it after it went on display at New York's Guggenheim Museum in 2016.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decides whether to bring cases to court in England and Wales, said the four men, aged between 35 and 39, would appear in court in Oxford on November 28.

James Sheen, 39, is facing one count of burglary, one count of conspiracy to transfer criminal property, and a further charge of transferring criminal property.

Michael Jones, 38, is facing a charge of burglary while Fred Doe, 35, and Bora Guccuk, 39, are both accused of conspiracy to transfer criminal property, a CPS statement read.

Police had made several arrests in relation to the theft from the palace, which was home to the dukes of Marlborough and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

It is not known whether the toilet has been recovered.

Updated: November 07, 2023, 8:43 AM