The emailed response from the Guggenheim's chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent Van Gogh for President and Melania Trump's private living quarters. The curator's alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet -- an interactive work titled "America" that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.
For a year, the Guggenheim had exhibited "America" -- the creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan -- in a public restroom on the museum's fifth floor for visitors to use. But the exhibit was over and the toilet was available "should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House," Spector wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post.
The artist "would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan," wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. "It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care." [...]
The White House did not respond to inquiries about the matter. [...]
On the face of it, President Trump might appreciate an artist's rendering of a gilded toilet, given his well-documented history of installing gold-plated fixtures in his residences, his properties and even his airplane. But the president is also a self-described germaphobe, and it's an open question whether he would accept a previously used toilet, 18-karat or otherwise.
Cattelan's "America" caused something of a sensation after the Guggenheim unveiled it in 2016, drawing more than a few headlines. [...] "More than one hundred thousand people" who "waited patiently in line for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature," Spector wrote in a Guggenheim blog post last year. The museum posted a uniformed security guard outside the bathroom. Every 15 minutes or so, a crew would arrive with specially chosen wipes to clean the gold.
They should have offered a golden shower instead.