Golden Toilet Stolen, Police have Nothing to Go On

London, ENGLAND — Four men were charged Monday over the theft of an 18-carat gold toilet from Blenheim Palace, the sprawling English country mansion where British wartime leader Winston Churchill was born.

The toilet, valued at 4.8 million pounds ($5.95 million), was an artwork titled “America” and intended as a pointed satire about excessive wealth by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan. It was part of an art installation at Blenheim Palace, near the city of Oxford, a few days before it vanished overnight in September 2019.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Monday it has authorized criminal charges against four men, ages 35-39, over the theft. They are accused of burglary and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

Seven people had been arrested over the heist, but no charges have been brought until Monday, four years after the toilet was stolen. The artwork has never been found.

The golden toilet was fully functioning, and prior to the theft, visitors to the exhibition could book a three-minute appointment to use it. Police said that because the toilet had been connected to the palace’s plumbing system, its removal caused “significant damage and flooding” to the 18th-century building, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with valuable art and furniture that draws thousands of visitors each year.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York, where the artwork was installed in a bathroom prior to it being shown at Blenheim Palace, described the toilet as “cast in 18-carat gold.”

The museum said the artwork invited viewers to “make use of the fixture individually and privately” to experience “unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”

In 2021, the Thames Valley Police, the force investigating the theft, suggested that it would be a “challenge” to recover the toilet.

“Will we ever see that toilet again? Personally I wonder if it’s in the shape of a toilet to be perfectly honest,” police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber told the BBC. “If you have that large amount of gold I think it seems likely that someone has already managed to dispose of it one way or another.”

The four suspects will appear at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Nov. 28, prosecutors said.

Perilous Peaks: China’s ‘Most Inconvenient Convenience Store’

Photo CNN

In southern China, there’s a peculiar sight that’s been dubbed the “most inconvenient convenience store” in the country. This little wooden shed, measuring just two square meters, is perched 394 feet above the ground on a steep cliff in the Shiniuzhai Scenic Area, Hunan province.

Shiniuzhai is famous for its hilly terrain, offering breathtaking views and exciting mountain-based activities, including China’s first glass-bottomed bridge, known as “Brave Men’s Bridge.”

The store itself is situated along an 800-meter via ferrata route, a mountain path secured with metal anchors and structures for climbers. It opened in 2018 and recently grabbed the spotlight again in Chinese media.

Climbers making the 90-minute journey to the top can get a free bottle of water at the store, courtesy of the staff who carry supplies up the hill daily. They sell these beverages for less than a dollar.

During the Mid-Autumn festival, the staff even gave out free mooncakes to climbers. Hunan province has its share of remarkable landscapes, including the famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which was said to have inspired the alien world in James Cameron’s movie “Avatar.”