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Solid gold toilet worth $1M and titled 'America' stolen from U.K. palace

Image: Blenheim Palace Hosts Artist Maurizio Cattelan's First Solo UK Exhib
"America", a fully-working solid gold toilet, created by artist Maurizio Cattelan, is seen at Blenheim Palace on September 12, 2019 in Woodstock, England. Copyright Leon Neal
Copyright Leon Neal
By Minyvonne Burke with NBC News World News
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The toilet, an artwork, was reportedly offered at one point by the Guggenheim Museum to President Donald Trump and the first lady for the White House.


An 18-karat solid gold toilet worth more than $1 million was stolen early Saturday morning from a British palace that was the birthplace of Winston Churchill, police said.

The Thames Valley Police department said it received a call about the burglary at the Blenheim Palace just before 5 a.m.

A 66-year-old man has been taken into custody in connection to the crime but authorities have not located the toilet, an artwork titled "America."

Detective Inspector Jess Milne said in a statement on the department's website that police believe a "group of offenders" was involved and used "at least two vehicles" to escape.

"The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice," Milne said.

The toilet, which Blenheim Palace said was fully functional and open to the public to use, is a piece of artwork created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. According to NBC New York, it is estimated to be worth more than $1 million.

Inspector Milne said because the toilet works there was "significant damage and flooding" due to its being forcibly removed.

Cattelan's work has been on display at the palace since Thursday, and the exhibition will remain until Oct. 27. It is the artist's first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom in 20 years, according to the palace.

"We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt," the palace said in a statement Saturday on Twitter.

"We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations. It's therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share," the statement continued.

Cattelan did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

The artist's 'America' toilet was described by the Guggenheim Museum as a "bold, irreverent work." Inviting the public to use it makes available "an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent...its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity," the museum said in its write-up of its 2011-12 retrospective of Cattelan's work.

According to The Washington Post, the toilet could have been housed in the White House after the Guggenheim Museum offered it to President Donald Trump and Melania Trump. The couple requested a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, but were told that the painting they wanted, "Landscape With Snow" was "prohibited from travel expect for the rarest occasions."

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