26 January, 2018
"America", an 18-karat, solid gold toilet (that functions!) was offered to the Trumps by email, according to media reports.
It "offers a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all - its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity", the Guggenheim's description of the piece explains.
Trump and first lady Melania had asked to borrow a Van Gogh painting from the museum, but the Guggenheim responded that it could not accommodate the request and offered the toilet instead, according to The Washington Post.
As for the piece the Trumps wanted, van Gogh's "Landscape with Snow" (1888), Spector wrote that it was "prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions", and was slated to be displayed at the museum's Bilbao location, after which the painting would remain in NY "for the foreseeable future".
"It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care", she wrote.
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The toilet had been used by visitors but was available "should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House", Spector wrote in the email.
Spector's emailed reply to the White House's request to loan Landscape with Snow was obtained by the Post.
Maurizio Cattelan, the artist behind "America", would not discuss the meaning of the art piece when reached by the Post.
"Cattelan's anticipation of Trump's America will, perhaps, be the lasting imprint of the sculpture's time at the Guggenheim", she wrote.
Spector is a Trump foe who has spoken out against the president. It is not uncommon for museums to loan priceless works of art to sitting presidents; the Obamas borrowed works by the likes of Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns. It would subsequently return to NY "for the foreseeable future".