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Gage Skidmore AFP News (CC-BY-SA) Carlos Devora

Trump asked the Guggenheim for a Van Gogh—and it offered him a gold toilet

Will Trump accept the offer?


Carlos Devora

Internet Culture

Published Jan 25, 2018   Updated May 22, 2021, 3:20 am CDT

The Guggenheim Museum declined President Donald Trump’s request to “borrow” Van Gogh’s iconic “Landscape with Snow” for his and Melania’s private living quarters, but it didn’t leave the first couple empty-handed. Instead, the museum offered an 18-karat gold toilet titled “America,” according to The Washington Post. No, really.

The fully functioning toilet was an interactive art piece at the museum for an entire year. According to a museum blog post by chief curator Nancy Spector, the piece draws meaning from the “ever-increasing divide in our country between the wealthy and the poor that threatens the very stability of our culture.” Critics have also noted the satire embodied by the work, which weirdly correlates with America’s current political climate.

Maurizio Cattelan, the creator of the piece, happily offered the toilet to Trump as a “long-term loan,” according to an email obtained by Post. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care,” she wrote.

When Cattelan was asked to explain the meaning behind his work and why he offered his masterpiece to Trump, he told the post in a phone call, “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.” Huh? Whatever the reason, Twitter also had its two cents to offer.

There is no word yet if Trump will take the museum up on its offer, but who knows, he might make the costly work of art the newest addition to the White House. It seems like too good an opportunity to flush.

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*First Published: Jan 25, 2018, 6:52 pm CST