The suspect admitted to stealing a $5 million gold toilet: a work of art

The suspect admitted to stealing a $5 million gold toilet: a work of art


Unusual plumbing object was stolen from Churchill’s birthplace

A British man has pleaded guilty to stealing a gold toilet worth £4.8 million from Blenheim Palace. James Sheen stole a fully functioning 18-carat toilet when the precious metal plumbing fixture was part of an exhibition in 2019.

A man has pleaded guilty to stealing a gold toilet worth £4.8 million from a country house in Oxfordshire, where Winston Churchill was born, The Guardian writes.

The 18-carat Blenheim Palace toilet was stolen in September 2019 while it was on display at an art exhibition. James Sheen, 39, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to burglary, converting or transferring property acquired by crime and conspiracy to do the same at Oxford Crown Court.

A fully functioning toilet designed by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was connected during a robbery, causing flooding and damage to an 18th-century building in Woodstock, The Guardian notes.

Sheen appeared in court via video link from the prison where he is already serving a 17-year sentence for numerous thefts, including tractors worth £400,000 and valuable trophies from the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket.

Three other men have pleaded not guilty to charges related to the toilet theft. 38-year-old Michael Jones from Oxford is accused of burglary, writes The Guardian.

Frederick Sainz, also known as Frederick Doe, from Berkshire, and Bora Gucciuk, 40, from west London, are both charged with conspiracy to transfer property acquired by crime. The men’s trial is scheduled to take place on February 24, 2025.

The toilet, valued at £4.8 million ($5.95 million), was a work of art called “America,” conceived by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan as a biting satire on excessive wealth.

The golden toilet was fully functional, and before the theft, exhibition visitors could sign up for a three-minute procedure to use it. Police said that because the toilet was connected to the palace’s water supply, its removal caused “significant damage and resulted in flooding” of the 18th-century building, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with valuable artwork and furniture that attracts annual thousands of visitors.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York, where the artwork was installed in a bathroom before an exhibition at Blenheim Palace, described the toilet as “cast in 18-karat gold.”

In 2021, Thames Valley Police investigating the theft suggested it would be a “challenging task” to get the toilet back.

“Will we ever see this toilet again? Personally, I wonder if it’s shaped like a toilet, to be honest,” Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber told the BBC. “If you have such a large amount of gold, I think it is likely that someone has already disposed of it one way or another.”


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