White House Requests to Borrow Van Gogh Painting, Museum Offers Gold Toilet Instead

A fully functioning solid gold toilet, made by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, is going into public use at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on September 15, 2016. A guard will be stationed outside the bathroom to protect the work, entitled 'America', which recalls Marcel Duchamp's famous work, 'Fountain'. / …
WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The White House requested to borrow a Vincent Van Gogh painting from a museum to display it in the first family’s residence, but the museum offered a gold toilet instead.

The chief curator of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City responded to the White House’s request for the 1888 Van Gogh painting Landscape With Snow, saying that the museum is unable to loan the painting but could offer a gold toilet made by a contemporary and controversial Italian artist.

The curator, Nancy Spector, offered artist Maurizio Cattelan’s fully-functioning 18-karat gold toilet called America, which the museum just took off display.

“[The artist] would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote Spector, a critic of President Donald Trump, in the email obtained by the Washington Post. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”

It was displayed in a public restroom on the fifth floor of the museum and available for patrons to use.

A Guggenheim spokeswoman confirmed that Spector emailed Donna Hayashi Smith, who works in the White House’s Office of the Curator. Spector and Smith declined to comment on the email.

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