Four men have been charged with stealingAmerica, the solid gold toilet designed in 2016 by Maurizio Cattelan. Worth 4.8 million pounds (5.52 million euros), the “work” was stolen in September 2019 from Blenheim Palace, in the Oxford region of England, during a exhibition dedicated to the Italian artist.
James Sheen, 39, was indicted on charges of burglary, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and transfer of criminal property. Michael Jones, 38, was also indicted for burglary while Fred Doe, 35, and Bora Guccuk, 39, were indicted for conspiracy to transfer criminal property. All four men will appear before Oxford Crown Court on November 28, 2023.
The Thames Valley police, in charge of the case, do not want to give more information on the conditions of arrest of these men but indicate that other arrests had taken place previously. In August, British media reported that a file containing the results of four years of investigation had been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). At this stage, there is no indication that the 18-carat toilet has been found.
The installation disappeared during the night of September 13 to 14, 2019, two days after the opening of the exhibition. The burglary of these working toilets caused flooding and damage to the palace, a UNESCO heritage building and birthplace of William Churchill.
In August 2019, Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, said he was not implementing any special monitoring for these toilets. “It won’t be the easiest thing to steal”he estimated in the daily The Timesnotably because the toilets were connected to the plumbing. America had been exhibited at the Guggenheim in New York between 2016 and 2017. According to the museum, more than 100,000 people had lined up to “use” the work of art.