FRIEZE: Maurizio Cattelan’s Gold Toilet and Five Other Brazen Art World Heists

BY Frieze News Desk


The theft at Blenheim Palace takes its place among the most notable robberies in recent art history


A solid gold toilet isn’t the easiest thing to steal, or so thought Edward Spencer-Churchill, the founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation and first cousin, twice removed, of Sir Winston Churchill. But last weekend at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, art thieves made off with Maurizio Cattelan’s America (2016), an 18-karat lavatory once reportedly offered to Donald Trump by a Guggenheim curator. A 66-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the theft, but the location of the GB£1 million golden loo remains unknown.

The theft at Blenheim surely takes its place among the most brazen robberies in recent art history, and in tribute to last Saturday’s escapade, we’ve curated five other notable heists that shocked the art world.


The Louvre’s iconic portrait The Mona Lisa (1503) was stolen from the wall of the French gallery in August 1911. After spending the night in a supply cupboard, three Italian handymen snuck out into the gallery and removed the enigmatic painting from its frame, covered it in a blanket and rushed out of the gallery. The painting was recovered two years later.



September 17, 2019
of 24