Sept. 14 (UPI) — A working 18-karat solid-gold toilet worth $1.25 million was stolen from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, officials said Saturday.
The palace, which is the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, confirmed the theft in the early hours Saturday of the toilet, which was part of an exhibition by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan that opened Thursday.
“We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt,” the palace said in a statement.
Blenheim Palace initially said only that an “unforeseen incident” overnight had prompted officials to close the palace until 2 p.m.
In a news release, police said a 66-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident.
Thames Valley Detective Inspector Jess Milne said the theft caused “significant damage and flooding” because the toilet was connected to the palace plumbing system.
Police believe the thieves used at least two vehicles to make off with the golden throne, according to Milne.
The toilet was placed opposite the room were Church was born in 1874. He served as prime minister from 1940-45 and later from 1951-55.
Officials predicted some 6,000 people would use the toilet through Oct. 27. There was three-minute time limit to reduce long lines, the Evening Standard reported.
When the toilet was on was on display at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2016, around 100,000 people used it.
The country house was built in Oxfordshire, England, in the early 1700s. It is principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough.
Edward Spencer-Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, told the Times of London before the opening that the toilet wasn’t guarded because “it’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick. Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”
Spencer-Churchill told the Times of London that despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” he planned to sit on the throne for the time.”
The palace plans to resume operations.
“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 palace tweeted. “The investigation continues, but it will be business as usual from tomorrow, so visitors can continue to come and experience all we have to offer.”