Apparently if you’re the president of the United States, you can just ask to borrow paintings from famous museums.
A report from the Washington Post reveals that White House curator Donna Hayashi Smith sent a request to the Guggenheim Museum in New York on behalf of Donald and Melania Trump to borrow a priceless Van Gogh painting for their personal living quarters. Instead, the museum offered a toilet made of solid gold.
“Many thanks for your request to the Guggenheim Museum to borrow Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Landscape in the Snow’ for the President and First Lady’s private quarters in the White House,” museum curator Nancy Spector wrote in an obtained email. “I am sorry, however, to inform you that we are unable to participate in this loan.”
Spector’s very believable excuse was that the piece was part of the Thannahauser Collection, and is prohibited to travel “except for the rarest of occasions.” Additionally, the painting is scheduled to be moved to Spain for another exhibit.
Here’s a print of the painting the Trumps wanted, which you can buy from Wayfair.com for the low, low price of $63.99.
Instead, Spector offered the Trumps a piece very unlike the Van Gogh — a solid 18k gold toilet from contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The kicker? The working toilet has been on display at the museum in one of its public restrooms “for all to use in a wonderful act of generosity,” according to the email.
The email also states that Cattelan himself offered the toilet to the Trumps. When asked by the Post why he would do that, and on the meaning of the piece, he responded in the most artsy way possible.
“What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense,” he said.
Oh, and the piece of art that doubles as a toilet? Cattelan dubbed it “America.”
The Post also notes that it’s completely normal for presidents to borrow artwork, and that “the Obamas preferred abstract art.”