The golden go is gone.
A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled “America” by its creator Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.
The toilet was part of a larger exhibit featuring Mr. Cattelan’s work that began on Thursday.
As befits someone who would make a toilet out of gold, Mr. Cattelan’s response was a bit, um, cheeky.
“At first, when they woke me up this morning with the news I thought it was a prank: who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? I had forgotten for a second that was made out gold, then I realized.”
He said of the work, “‘America’” was the onepercent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is: I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin-Hood-inspired action.”
The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered.
Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet was plumbed to the building so the theft “caused significant damage and flooding.” He said the police believe a “group of offenders” using at least two vehicles was behind the theft.
“We hope against hope that we can recover this precious work of art,” said Dominic Hare, the chief executive of Blenheim Palace. “It is deeply ironic that a work of art portraying the American Dream and the idea of an elite object made available to all should be almost instantly snatched away and hidden from view.”
The toilet was installed in September 2016 at the Guggenheim in New York City, where it was an instant Instagram splash.
Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim’s artistic director and chief curator, wrote on the museum’s website in 2017 that “more than 100,000 people have waited patiently in line for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature.”
The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but Ms. Spector described it as “millions of dollars’ worth of gold.”
The Manhattan museum declined to comment on Saturday.
Mr. Cattelan said the work had been sent back to the manufacturer to be cleaned and polished, after the Guggenheim. He said “It definitely needed some restoration and rest, too.”
He had been helping set up the exhibition and said he was likely the last one to use the toilet.
“I promise I have an alibi for the night.”