Arts & Culture

Donald Trump Asked the Guggenheim for a Van Gogh Painting. The Museum Offered Him a Gold Toilet Instead.

The solid gold, fully functioning toilet is titled "America."

When President Trump asked the Guggenheim Museum to borrow a Van Gogh painting for the private living quarters at the White House, the New York museum offered a cheeky response: the painting wasn't available, but Trump could have an 18-karat gold toilet instead.

"America" by Maurizio Cattelan

That's according to a new report in the Washington Post, which says that Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector wrote in an email to the White House, "We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request, but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest."

The solid gold, fully functioning toilet is a work by artist Maurizio Cattelan titled "America," and it was installed in one of the museum's bathrooms for a temporary exhibition in 2016; guests were able to use it one by one, and it was wiped down every 15 minutes.

Spector told the White House that the painting the Trumps had requested, Van Gogh’s 1888 watercolor "Landscape With Snow," was "prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions" and was on its way to Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. It would subsequently return to New York "for the foreseeable future."


"America," however, was available, and Spector said its artist "would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan. It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care." (Spector, the museum's chief curator and artistic director, has been critical of Trump on social media.)

When reached by the Post over the phone, Cattelan chuckled and would at first only say, "It’s a very delicate subject." After a reporter asked him to explain the meaning of the toilet and why he offered it to the White House, he said, "What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense."

While Trump is known for his love of all things gold, it remains to be seen whether he will accept the offer. The White House did not respond to the Post's request for comment.

*This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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