The creator of a multi-million pound solid gold toilet has said he wishes its theft was a prank.
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who named the sculpture ‘America’, has a history of mischevious stunts surrounding his art.
This is his most high profile piece of art to date after it was stolen from Blenheim Palace.
He told the New York Times: ‘I wish it was a prank.
‘Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet?
‘America was the 1% for the 99%, and I hope it still is.
‘I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.’
The lustrous 18-carat working loo was ripped from a wood-panelled room at the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, in the early hours of Saturday.
Cattelan, 58, is understood to have attended a reception party at the 18th century Oxfordshire estate on Friday, marking his first UK solo exhibition in two decades.
The sculpture was the centrepiece of his new show, which opened on Thursday.
Thames Valley Police believe a gang of thieves using at least two vehicles were responsible for the theft and a 66-year-old man arrested on Saturday remains in police custody.
❗️ INCIDENT ❗️
We’re investigating a burglary at Blenheim Palace that occurred in the early hours of this morning.
A high value gold toilet has been stolen.
A man has been arrested and is in police custody.
— TVP_WestOxon (@TVP_WestOxon) September 14, 2019
Detective Inspector Jess Milne said on Sunday: ‘We are following a number of lines of inquiry and there will continue to be a police presence in and around the area of Blenheim Palace while our investigations continue.
‘We are making every effort to locate the offenders and the toilet that was stolen.’
Some sceptics have been slow to accept the theft at face value, with the memory of artist Banksy shredding his famous Girl With a Balloon painting still fresh in the mind of the art world.
Last year, onlookers at a Sotheby’s auction were stunned after the painting started to be cut with a shredder built-in to its frame, just after it had sold for more than £1 million. That stunt is said to have made the piece more valuable.
In Amsterdam in 1996, Cattelan previously stole the whole show of another artist at a nearby gallery and tried to pass off the exhibition as his own work.
He said at the time the theft was a ‘survival tactic’ after being given only two weeks to produce work for his exhibit, saying: ‘I took the path of least resistance. It was the quickest and easiest thing to do’, according to ArtNews.
Despite police being called, Cattelan was allowed to continue his display for several days.
Initial reports had said the golden toilet was worth an estimated £1 million, but Blenheim Palace chief executive Dominic Hare said it has been valued at about six million US dollars (£4.8 million).
The sculpture hit the headlines last year after it was offered to US president Donald Trump by the chief curator of the Guggenheim in New York, its former home.
The golden toilet had proved popular at the Fifth Avenue museum and had been described by critics as a pointed satire against the excesses of wealth.
Cattelan has previously said: ‘Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise’.