Guggenheim denies request by Melania, offers White House and America a giant insult instead

Thomas Phippen, DCNF 

First Lady Melania Trump’s request to borrow a Vincent Van Gogh painting from the Guggenheim Museum was refused, but a curator did offer another work of art: A functional 18-karat gold toilet.

This Sept. 16, 2016 image made from a video shows the 18-karat toilet, titled “America,” by Maurizio Cattelan in the restroom of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Guggenheim Museum’s chief curator came up with a pointedly satirical counter-offer. She offered them use of the solid gold toilet used by visitors in a museum restroom until last August. (AP Photo)

The curator at the Guggenheim responded to Trump’s request by offering to loan the White House a working toilet made of gold called “America,” accordingto The Washington Post.

The gold commode was available “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,” curator Nancy Spector wrote in an email response to the White House, obtained by The Post.

According to the email, Trump had requested Van Gogh’s “Landscape with Snow,” but that work was “prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions,” Spector wrote. “We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request,” Spector said, “but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.”

She included an illustration of the toilet, designed by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” Spector, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, said in the email.

The Guggenheim had displayed “America” for some time, allowing tens of thousands of visitors to use the gilded toilet, but the museum offered to transport it to the White House along with instructions for how to use it. The museum had installed the toilet “for all to use in the privacy of one of the Guggenheim’s single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms, Spector wrote in a blog post in 2017.

The piece resonated in the Trump era, as Trump had become “synonymous with golden toilets,” Spector wrote in the museum’s blog.

“It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care,” Spector wrote to the White House.

Cattelan told The Post that the offer was “a very delicate subject.” When a reporter asked why he offered the toilet to the Trumps, Cattelan said: “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

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