CBS News screenshot

The level of shade in this move feels epic. After the White House asked to borrow a Vincent van Gogh painting to be placed in the president and his captive the first lady’s private living area, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City politely denied that request but offered them a solid-gold usable toilet instead.

Here’s how the Washington Post describes the pleasant email the White House received informing the Trumps of the alternative artwork:

Instead, wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, another piece was available, one that was nothing like “Landscape With Snow,” the lovely 1888 van Gogh rendering of a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog.

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.

According to the Post, America has been exhibited inside a public restroom on the Guggenheim’s fifth floor, but it can totally be used by the president now that the exhibit is over.

The artist, Maurizio Cattelan, “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, who, the Post notes, 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 artist didn’t care to explain the meaning of his work or the cost behind it, which is rumored to be around $1 million.


The Post notes that it is common for presidents to borrow art, noting that the Smithsonian loaned the Kennedys a Eugène Delacroix painting, The Smoker. The Obamas had works by Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns in the White House back when it was a respectable place.

I hope that Trump takes the Guggenheim up on its offer because somehow the artwork actually seems fitting for this administration. I would also like to express my delight at the famed art museum’s level of petty.