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Trump Wanted a Van Gogh. Instead, the Guggenheim Offered Him a Gold Toilet Called 'America'

"It is a solid, 18k gold toilet that was installed in one of our public restrooms for all to use in a wonderful act of generosity," the museum's curator wrote in a message to the White House

Maurizio Cattelan's "America" was on display at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City for one year, until September 15, 2017, the date of the curator's email to the White House. (Photo: Guggenheim)

The Guggenheim declined President Donald Trump's request to borrow a Vincent Van Gogh painting, instead offering to loan him an 18-karat gold, fully functional toilet called "America," according to an email obtained by the Washington Post.

Trump, through the White House's Office of the Curator, had requested to borrow Vincent Van Gogh's "Landscape With Snow" for his and Melania's living quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim's curator, replied to the request by email in September, stating that although the museum was "unable to participate" in the loan for the Van Gogh, due to the painting's travel restrictions, she was able to offer an alternative: the golden toilet. 

"Fortuitously, a marvelous work by the celebrated contemporary Italian artist, Maurizio Cattelan, is coming off view today after a year's installation at the Guggenheim, and he would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan," Spector wrote. "It is a solid, 18k gold toilet that was installed in one of our public restrooms for all to use in a wonderful act of generosity."

Spector included a photo of the participatory art project in her message along with an offer to "provide all the instructions for its installation."


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The toilet, according to the Guggenheim's website, makes "available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent," and offers "a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all—its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity."

A Guggenheim spokeswoman confirmed to the Post that Spector sent the email to Donna Hayashi Smith, a representative at the White House's Office of the Curator, but said Spector was unavailable for further comment.

Twitter users, however, were quick to comment on the story after the email was published, with one remarking:

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