BY TAIWO FAROTIMI
At least one suspect, 66-year-old man is being held in connection with a robbery in a palace loo in the United Kingdom. The manhunt is not just because the incident happened in Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of the war time prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, it is because of the value of the stolen property. The toilet that was stolen is a solid gold piece of art that has attracted tourists to the palace in the short period that the place has been opened for visitors.
Convinced that the robbery could not have been successfully done by one person, the Thames Valley police are in desperate search for the collaborators of the suspect in their custody. This is because they believe that two vehicles were used for the robbery operation.
The art piece said to be worth £1 million pounds ( about N450 million), and christened America, was created by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan. It was first displayed in 2016 in New York. Detective Inspector Jess Milne said:”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.”
Though Dominic Hare, chief executive of Blenheim Palace, said: “We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations”, the authorities did not envisage that it could be a subject of robbery. For instance, when Edward Spencer-Churchill, the founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation was asked about concern for security ahead of the exhibition, his response was: “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.” It turned out that the thief did not bother about the smell of the waste passed into a toilet that every visitor is allowed to use, provided he abides by the three-minutes period of use and would not mind a guard at the door while he does his thing. The plumbing work was not also a hindrance to them. They damaged the wall to get the toilet out. That caused losses in esthetic and property value.
Beyond that, the thieves have, by their act, caused a lot of hiccups and disappointment. First, the palace exhibition had to be suspended on Saturday, while the palace grounds were closed to visitors. It will be opened Sunday for other attractions. Two, they denied visitors the immediate opportunity to see and perhaps use the golden toilet. And lastly, even Spencer-Churchill has to put on hold a special wish. He had said while the toilet was being installed, “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a s**t on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it.”