Golden toilet named ‘America’ stolen from Blehnheim Palace

66-year-old man suspected of the theft was arrested by Thames Valley Police.

By
September 18, 2019 01:36
2 minute read.
Golden toilet named ‘America’ stolen from Blehnheim Palace

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan poses with his creation "Him" (2001) prior to the opening of the exhibition "Not Afraid of Love" at the Hotel de la Monnaie in Paris, France, October 17, 2016. . (photo credit: PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS)

A working golden toilet crafted by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan was stolen from Blehnheim Palace in the UK, the BBC reported last week.

America [2016] by Maurizio Cattelan /  WIKIMEDIA

The toilet, which is fully functioning, is titled America [2016] and visitors to the solo exhibition of Cattelan at the Blenheim Art Foundation were encouraged to use it when it opened on Thursday.

Other works featured in the exhibition, which will close on October 27, include a 2001 figure of Adolf Hitler kneeling in prayer at the Blehnheim Palace chapel; a gigantic walkway composed of huge Union Jacks titled Victory Is Not An Option; La Nona Ora [The Ninth Hour, 1990], a figure of Pope John Paul II being hit by a meteorite; and The Ballad of Trotsky, a stuffed horse suspended from the ceiling.

A 66-year-old man was arrested in connection to the crime, but America was still not found; the exhibition re-opened on Sunday, sans toilet.

The work, estimated to be worth $1 million in the value of the gold alone, was offered to the White House by the Guggenheim instead of a van Gogh painting that US President Donald Trump requested for his private living quarters, The Washington Post reported in January 2018.

Cattelan is seen as an artist who blends being a joker of sorts with creating accessible, instantly understood Pop-like objects.

Such themes are not new in the art world. Marcel Duchamp created art out of a urinal in 1917 in Fountain, and Piero Manzoni sold tins containing his own feces in a work titled Artist’s Sh*t in 1961.

Jeff Koons created Balloon Dog in the late 1990s and Popeye in 2002, huge figures that would be easily recognized by anyone familiar with Western visual culture.

One of the leading figures in British art today, Damien Hirst famously uses dead sharks and cows in his own works, such as 1991’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living and 1993’s Mother and Child Divided.

In Israeli art, the late Boaz Arad created the video-work Angel of History in 2000, where clips of Hitler speaking were edited to offer the impression that the Nazi leader says [in Hebrew]: ‘Shalom Jerusalem, I am sorry.”

The painter David Reeb saw his painting Arik eats children taken out of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2001 when the late Ariel Sharon was prime minister of Israel.

Blehnheim Palace chief executive Dominic Hare said that: “We hope that the wonderful work of our dear friend Maurizio Cattelan becomes immortalized by this stupid and pointless act.”


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