THE artist who sculpted a solid gold toilet reportedly worth £4.8m has dismissed claims that its theft was a prank.

Italian creator Maurizio Cattelan has spoken out after his prized art piece was stolen from Blenheim Palace on Saturday, just two days after it went on display at the country house in Woodstock.

The 18-carat toilet, named America, was ripped from a wood-panelled room and police are yet to track it down.

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As Mr Cattelan has a history of mischievous stunts, some sceptics said they thought the burglary was an elaborate publicity ploy. 

However, he told the New York Times: "I wish it was a prank.

"Who's so stupid to steal a toilet?

"America was the 1% for the 99%, and I hope it still is.

"I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action."

The 58-year-old reportedly attended a party at Blenheim estate on Friday, celebrating his first UK solo exhibition in two decades.

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The sculpture was the centrepiece of his new show, which opened on Thursday.

Blenheim was closed on Saturday, with a police cordon blocking entry, but reopened yesterday.

Visitors can still see the rest of the Cattelan exhibition, but will no longer be able to book a three-minute slot to use the lustrous loo.

Thames Valley Police believe a gang of thieves using at least two vehicles were responsible for the theft.

The force arrested a 66-year-old man, and is expected to provide an update today as to whether or not he has been charged.

Blenheim's chief executive Dominic Hare has described the burglary as a 'very fast smash-and-grab raid.'

In an interview with the BBC this morning, he encouraged people to come and see the hole where the toilet was ripped out.