Donald Trump has been offered the loan of an 18-karat gold toilet by New York’s Guggenheim Museum after it rejected the US President’s request to borrow a panting by Vincent Van Gogh.
The museum’s chief curator offered the toilet, which had been used by tens of thousands of visitors, in a September 15 email to a Trump administration official, the Washington Post reported.
A Guggenheim spokeswoman declined immediate comment on the Post’s story and the White House are yet to respond to requests, so it is unclear if Trump accepted the toilet.
The artwork, entitled ‘America’, is by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s and is an 18-carat gold fully functioning toilet.
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.
The toilet offer came in response to a request to borrow the painting “Landscape with Snow” by 19th century Dutch painter Van Gogh, for installation at the president and first lady’s private living quarters.
According to the Post, museum curator Nancy Spector responded to the White House request last September, explaining that the Van Gogh could not be moved.
“I am sorry... to inform you that we are unable to participate in this loan since the painting is part of the museum’s Thannhauser Collection, which is prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions.”
The 1888 painting, the email added, would be exhibited at the museum’s sister institution with the permission of the owners.
Spector told the White House that Cattelan’s toilet was available for a “long-term loan”, but pointed out that it was “extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care”.
Cattelan, reached by phone in New York by the Post, referred questions about the toilet to the Guggenheim. The newspaper said he responded to questions “with a chuckle”, adding: “It’s a very delicate subject.”
In a Guggenheim blog about the toilet in 2017, Spector took aim at the president, saying 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.
It is common for presidents and first ladies to borrow major works of art to decorate the Oval Office, the first family’s residence and various rooms at the White House, the Post noted.
The Smithsonian loaned the Kennedys a Eugène Delacroix painting, ‘The Smoker’ and the Obamas choose works by Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns.
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, Reuters noted.