NEW YORK – Not all that glitters is a toilet bowl.
When President Donald Trump and his wife asked the Guggenheim to “borrow” a Vincent Van Gogh painting for their private White House quarters, a curator responded that the museum unfortunately could not accommodate the request.
However, the curator wrote in an email, the Upper East Side museum could offer the presidential couple another piece: a used, fully functional toilet made of solid 18-karat gold titled “America.”
The shimmering art piece, created by Italian-born artist Maurizio Cattelan, is estimated to have cost more than $1 million to make.
The Guggenheim curator, Nancy Spector, pitched the golden toilet bowl to the Trumps in a Sept. 15 email – first reported by The Washington Post – after a White House curator asked if the presidential couple could borrow Van Gogh’s pastoral “Landscape with Snow” from 1888.
The email contents were confirmed to the New York Daily News by a museum spokeswoman.
Spector wrote back that Van Gogh’s painting was a no-go, but pointed out that Cattelan’s interactive “America” piece was available after concluding a yearlong exhibit in a public bathroom on the museum’s fifth floor. The toilet had been used by visitors but was available “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,” Spector wrote in the email.
“(Cattelan) would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” Spector continued. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”
The White House did not respond to emailed questions from The News, and it was not immediately clear if the Trumps ever took the Guggenheim up on its glimmering offer.
Cattelan, who lives in New York, could not be reached Thursday afternoon but told The Washington Post that his offer to the Trumps is “a very delicate subject.”
Asked to expand on the meaning of “America” and why he volunteered it to the White House, Cattelan responded, “What’s the point of our life?
“Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense,” he added.
Spector, who could not be reached for comment either, has been vocal about her distaste for the Trump presidency and penned an extensive blog post about the gilded lavatory this past summer, “Maurizio Cattelan’s Golden Toilet in the Time of Trump.”
“When the sculpture came off view on September 15, Trump had been in office for 238 days, a term marked by scandal and defined by the deliberate rollback of countless civil liberties, in addition to climate-change denial that puts our planet in peril,” Spector wrote in the Aug. 17 post.
Trump’s penchant for gold is no secret.
Several of the facades to his Manhattan skyscrapers are plated with gold, and photos from inside his residences reveal that anything from lamp shades to picture frames are gilded.
But Trump might not have been too keen on the idea of installing a previously public toilet in the White House, considering the fact that he’s also a well-documented germophobe.