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Museum offers gold toilet to Trump instead of Van Gogh's work

  • Published at 08:16 pm January 27th, 2018
Museum offers gold toilet to Trump instead of Van Gogh's work

New York’s Guggenheim Museum offered to lend an 18-karat gold toilet to US President Donald Trump after the White House asked to borrow a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The museum’s chief curator offered to loan the toilet, which had been used by tens of thousands of visitors, in a September 15 email to a Trump administration official, the newspaper reported.

A Guggenheim spokeswoman declined immediate comment on the Washington Post report and White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear how the White House responded to the Guggenheim curator’s offer.

The piece, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, is an 18-karat gold, fully functioning toilet. It is called “America.”

It was put on display in 2016 in a single-stall bathroom at the Guggenheim, where it was used in private luxury by more than 100,000 people, according to a Guggenheim blog post. The museum said the object, which was on display for a year, “skewers social complacencies” and the extravagances of the wealthy.

Trump, a real estate developer turned reality television star, campaigned for president as a savvy businessman with the commercial sense to succeed in the White House. His exact personal wealth is unknown.

The offer came in response to a White House request to borrow the painting “Landscape with Snow” by 19th century Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, for installation at the president and first lady’s private living quarters, the Washington Post reported. The request for the painting was declined.

Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector had previously written about the toilet in a 2017 blog post, in which she took swipes at the president. She wrote that the “Trump reference” inherent in the gold toilet resonated with people “during the sculpture’s time at the Guggenheim.”

“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.

Trump is known to have a taste for gold and gilded objects. On Christmas Eve, he took calls from children while seated on a gold chair in a tapestried room at his Florida vacation home.

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