Legendary British leader Winston Churchill was born at the countryside mansion of Blenheim Palace in England. In recent years, the tourist attraction was also home to Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s piece “America,” consisting of a fully-functioning golden toilet. But in September 2019, the 18-carat toilet disappeared overnight, leading to a search for the artwork and for the thieves who stole it.
Now, the culprits are facing the music. On Nov. 6, the Crown Prosecution Service announced criminal charges for four men who were involved in the theft, accusing them of burglary and conspiracy to transfer criminal property. In total, seven people have been arrested over the heist since it first went missing, but it wasn’t until now that formal charges were brought.
Before the toilet was snatched from the palace, visitors were allowed to book a three-minute appointment to use the nearly $6 million piece of art. It was completely connected to the palace’s plumbing system, so by removing it, the thieves caused massive damage and flooding to the building. And it isn’t exactly a robust structure; the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in the 1700s and houses some priceless art and furniture.
Sadly, the toilet has still not been found. Thames Valley Police said in 2021 that it would be a “challenge” to recover the toilet. “Will we ever see that toilet again? Personally I wonder if it’s in the shape of a toilet to be perfectly honest,” police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber told the BBC. “If you have that large amount of gold I think it seems likely that someone has already managed to dispose of it one way or another.”
Here’s hoping the toilet was disinfected if it was melted down into jewelry.