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Maurizio Cattelan's America, 2016. Kristopher McKay.

Guggenheim Offers President Trump Gold Toilet in Lieu of Van Gogh Painting

Instead of the Vincent van Gogh painting requested by the White House, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s chief curator, Nancy Spector, offered Donald and Melania Trump an 18-karat gold toilet. According to an email obtained by the Washington Post, Spector responded to the White House’s request to borrow van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow, 1888, with an alternative offer: Maurizio Cattelan’s controversial America, 2016, a fully functioning gold toilet that was installed in one of the Guggenheim’s public restrooms for a year.

Cattelan “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote Spector. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.” Spector, who has protested Trump’s presidency on social media, included an image of the artwork in her email. “We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request,” she wrote, “but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.”

While Trump’s fondness for gold is notorious, he is also a self-pronounced germaphobe who once called shaking hands “barbaric.” So he might not accept the gold toilet, as it has been used by more than one hundred thousand people.

“When the artist proposed the sculpture in mid-2015, Donald Trump had just announced his bid for the presidency,” Spector wrote in a Guggenheim blog post last August, a month before she responded to the White House request. “It was inconceivable at the time that this business mogul, he of the eponymous gilded tower, could actually win the White House.” She concluded that “Cattelan’s anticipation of Trump’s America will, perhaps, be the lasting imprint of the sculpture’s time at the Guggenheim.”

Soon, van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow will travel to the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and then return to Manhattan, where Spector said it would remain “for the foreseeable future.”

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