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Trump Wanted Art So This Museum Offered Him a Gold Toilet

The Guggenheim couldn't lend the White House a Van Gogh, but it was more than willing to hand over Maurizio Cattelan's "America."
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo via the Guggenheim

A few months back, the White House reached out to the Guggenheim Museum and asked to borrow a Van Gogh for the president and Melania Trump's private residence. The request seemed reasonable enough—museums have lent presidents fine art before—but the Guggenheim couldn't make it happen. Instead, its curator gave the Trumps another option: an 18-karat, solid-gold toilet.

According to the Washington Post, more than 100,000 patrons of the Guggenheim had already gone to town in Maurizio Cattelan's masterwork—titled, simply, "America"—and he wanted to extend the same privilege to the First Couple. The museum's curator, Nancy Spector, passed on the message: "Should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House," she wrote, the crapper was all theirs.


"It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care," Spector added, according to an email obtained by the Post.

Spector once called the sculpture "a cipher for the excesses of affluence." It's reportedly worth more than $1 million in gold alone, but it's also been shit, pissed, and otherwise violated in by an army of regular old plebes. The Guggenheim removed it from a fifth-floor bathroom at the museum in September—and in Spector's eyes, "it was the Trump reference that resonated so loudly during the sculpture’s time at the Guggenheim." Only makes sense that the president should get to use it himself.

It doesn't look like the Trumps took Cattelan up on his offer, despite the fact that they could use a reliable toilet at the White House. The artist and shitter enthusiast wouldn't go into details about why he'd offered "America" to the president—he's known for being enigmatic, to say the least—but when the Post pressed him on the question, he at least gave them something.

"What's the point of our life?" he asked. "Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense."

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