WTF Fun Fact 13617 – The Stolen Gold Toilet

On a quiet morning in early 2019, Blenheim Palace became the scene of the theft of an 18-karat gold toilet. The piece, named “America,” was crafted by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. This functional piece of art was valued at a staggering $6 million. It was not only a statement on wealth but also open for palace visitors to use.

The Plot of the Gold Toilet Heist

Four men—James Sheen, Michael Jones, Fred Doe, and Bora Guccuk—executed the heist at the ancestral home of Winston Churchill. They snatched the golden toilet, leaving behind a trail of destruction and water damage. This act spurred a nationwide manhunt that resulted in their capture and subsequent charges ranging from burglary to conspiracy.

The aftermath of the theft left the palace with substantial flood damage. Of course, the audacity of the crime has both baffled and captivated the public. The men face a court date in late November. But the fate of the toilet remains shrouded in mystery. Authorities speculate that they may have melted down the golden throne, its form forever lost to greed.


The golden toilet, on display for visitors to use, questioned the art market’s extravagance. It stood as a challenge, blurring the lines between high art and everyday objects. The theft of the piece has stirred a debate about the value we place on art and the lengths some will go to own or destroy it.

“America” was more than a dazzling fixture; it was an interactive installation that invited contemplation on opulence and art’s accessibility. By making such a luxury available to all, the artwork broke down barriers. It allowed the public to partake in what is typically exclusive to the affluent. Cattelan’s work not only nods to the excesses of the art market but also poses questions about the value society places on material wealth.

The art community and the public alike await with bated breath for any news of the lost masterpiece. Will it resurface, or has it been irreversibly lost to the annals of infamous art heists?

This tale of ambition, art, and audacity continues to evolve. It reminds us of the potent allure that art holds and the powerful statements it can make—even when it comes in the form of a gold toilet.

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Sources: “Four Men Charged With 2019 Theft of $6 Million Gold Toilet” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 13464 – Stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs

You may think the world of crime revolves around daring bank robberies, high-tech cyberattacks, or audacious art thefts. However, sometimes it boils down to an ‘eggstraordinary’ heist involving 200,000 stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs.

This seemingly absurd yet true tale resulted in an 18-month prison sentence for a 32-year-old man named Joby Pool.

The Tale of the Stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs

Referred to as the “Easter Bunny” by the police, Pool had pulled off a robbery that any candy-loving kid might dream of, but with serious real-world consequences. On the 11th of February, he broke into an industrial unit in Telford, UK, belonging to SW Group Logistics. With the help of a stolen lorry cab and a metal grinder, he made away with a haul worth more than £31,000 (over $42,000) – all in Cadbury Creme Eggs.

In late July of 2023, Shrewsbury Crown Court Judge Anthony Lowe passed the sentence of 18 months. Pool is to serve half of this time in prison and the other half on parole. He has already spent six months in custody, which will count towards his jail time.

A Well-Planned Heist

Prosecutor Owen Beale stressed during a previous court hearing that this was not a spur-of-the-moment act. Pool took a tractor unit with him. Beale said, “This is clearly an organized criminal matter. You don’t just happen to learn about a trailer with that kind of value being available.”

Defense lawyer Debra White pointed out that Pool had shown genuine remorse for his actions. He regrets the impact it had on his family and the business involved. However, Judge Lowe was unconvinced that Pool was the sole perpetrator in the planning of the theft. She suggested that inside information or reconnaissance was involved in identifying the valuable trailer.

West Mercia police took to Twitter to describe the incident, coining it an “eggs-travagant theft” of a “chocolate collection box”. They added, “West Mercia police has helped save Easter for Creme Egg fans after almost 200,000 of the chocolate treats were stolen.”

A Lesson Learned

Pool, hailing from Tingley, near Leeds, had previously admitted to theft, causing criminal damage to a lock at the trailer park, and driving without insurance. His conviction serves as a stern reminder of the serious consequences of such actions, however comedic they might seem on the surface.

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Source: “Man who stole 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs jailed for 18 months” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13381 – Ruby Slippers Theft

For those unaware, the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” were actually stolen in 2005. These iconic shoes, synonymous with the film’s magic and Dorothy’s journey, were on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota when they were taken. The ruby slippers theft garnered significant attention and led to a lengthy search for their whereabouts.

The conclusion of the ruby slippers theft saga

In 2023, a grand jury in North Dakota indicted a man on charges of stealing a pair of iconic ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

The theft occurred in 2005, but the slippers were recovered in a 2018 FBI sting operation. However, no arrests were made at the time. Terry Martin, a 76-year-old resident living near the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, was indicted. He was charged with one count of theft of a major artwork.

The indictment did not provide further details about Martin. When approached by the press, Martin declined to comment, only stating, “I gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”

Janie Heitz, the executive director of the museum, expressed surprise. The subject lived nearby, and yet none of the staff had ever seen him.

Multiple pairs

During the production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Garland wore several pairs of ruby slippers. However, only four authentic pairs are known to exist today. At the time of the theft, the slippers were insured for $1 million, but their current market value is estimated to be around $3.5 million, according to federal prosecutors.

The stolen slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the late actor’s hometown, when they were taken. Prosecutors reported that someone climbed through a window and broke the display case to steal the slippers.

The recovery of the stolen slippers followed years of searching and enticing rewards. Early in the case, law enforcement offered a $250,000 reward, and in 2015, an anonymous donor from Arizona pledged $1 million.

In 2017, a man contacted the shoes’ insurer, claiming he could help retrieve them. After an almost year-long investigation, the FBI seized the slippers in Minneapolis in July 2018. At that time, the bureau stated that no arrests had been made or charges filed in connection with the case.

Getting caught

A summons has been issued for Terry Martin, and an initial court appearance is scheduled for June 1 via video. The U.S. Justice Department in North Dakota provided limited information beyond the details included in the indictment.

The ruby red slippers are famously linked to the iconic line in “The Wizard of Oz,” where Garland’s character, Dorothy, clicks her heels together while repeating the phrase, “There’s no place like home.” The slippers are made from various materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic, and glass. The ruby color predominantly comes from sequins, while the bows feature red glass beads.

The other three pairs of slippers worn by Garland in the film are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.

Once the legal case concludes, the museum staff hopes that the slippers will return to Garland’s hometown, providing a fitting tribute to the legendary actress.

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Source: “Man indicted in theft of ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland” — AP News