Lavatory larceny: Man pleads guilty to solid gold toilet theft

The art piece as it was displayed before the theft

A man has pleaded guilty to the theft of an 18-carat gold toilet from Blenheim Palace, reportedly worth over £4.8m.

The toilet was part of an exhibition by artist Maurizio Cattelan being held at the stately Oxfordshire home of the Duke of Marlborough. The piece of art, entitled “America”, was the show’s centrepiece before it was ripped from a wood-panelled room and removed from the property.

The extraordinary crime took place during the early hours of Saturday, September 14, 2019, with police originally believing a gang of thieves using at least two vehicles were responsible.

It was reported that the incident caused “significant damage and flooding”, as the toilet was plumbed into the building before being stolen.

Thames Valley Police had previously charged four men in connection with the theft. James Sheen, 39, has now pleaded guilty to the crimes of burglary, converting or transferring criminal property, and conspiracy to do the same, at Oxford Crown Court.

Sheen admitted to the crime via video link from. He is already serving a 17-year sentence at HMP Five Wells for numerous other thefts, including stealing £400,000 worth of tractors and several high-value trophies from Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum.

The three other men charged have pleaded not guilty to the incident.

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