Trump asks Guggenheim for a Van Gogh, offered 18-karat Italian gold toilet instead

The request was for a Van Gogh to adorn the walls of the president and first lady's private residence in the White House. The answer? No -- but how about a fully functioning, 18-karat gold toilet instead?

Trump asks Guggenheim for a Van Gogh, offered 18-karat Italian gold toilet instead
The fully-functioning gold toilet. Photo: William Edwards/AFP

While it's customary for US presidents to borrow works of art during their time in office, the Guggenheim in Donald Trump's hometown of New York was polite, but firm in its refusal, The Washington Post reported.

When the White House requested the renowned Dutch painter's “Landscape With Snow,” the museum's chief curator — an outspoken Trump critic — countered that the 19th century painting was “prohibited from travel except for the
rarest of occasions.”

“We are sorry not to be able to accommodate your original request,” wrote Nancy Spector in an email obtained by the Post, “but remain hopeful that this special offer may be of interest.”

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's “America” — a gleaming gold toilet — was on display at the Guggenheim for nearly a year, installed in a restroom for the private use of members of the public with a guard posted outside.

Now that the exhibition was over, the artist would “like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” the Post quoted Spector as emailing.

“It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”

Asked to explain the meaning of the installation and why he offered it to the Trumps, 57-year-old Cattelan told the Post: “What's the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

The Guggenheim, asked by AFP, said it had “no further information to provide.” The White House did not immediately respond to an AFP query. In a blog last August, Spector called the toilet “a cipher for the excesses of affluence” and said more than 100,000 people had queued “for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature.”

“Though crafted from millions of dollars' worth of gold, the sculpture is actually a great leveler. As Cattelan has said, “Whatever you eat, a $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”

Neither is it the first association between Trump, whose Manhattan home is famous for its lavish gold color scheme, and a golden toilet. Last June, Trevor Noah's “The Daily Show” hosted a free exhibition in New York lampooning the president, inviting the public to soak up his tweets and fire off one or two of their own from a golden toilet.

READ ALSO: Italy's farmers turn cowpats into crockery at 'Shit Museum'


The new guide to Florence’s Uffizi Galleries – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Florence's world-famous galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

The new guide to Florence's Uffizi Galleries - showing only the nudes
Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is the most famous work included in a controversial new guide to the Uffizi Galleries. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The online guide to the gallieries is produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

Part of the site’s Classic Nudes series of ‘erotic’ guides to some of the world’s most renowned museums, the guide for the Uffizi lists 21 artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and the location of each piece within the galleries.

“The Uffizi Gallery is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. So it’s no wonder it has such a large collection of artwork from the era. But what you may find surprising is the sheer volume and variety of naked bodies rendered in paint, bronze and marble in this marvelous museum,” writes Pornhub.

Among the works featured are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485) and the Roman statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, dating from the 1st Century.

The guide also includes the Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538), which it calls “kinky”, and Painting and Poetry by Francesco Furini (1626), which is described as featuring “two ridiculously hot babes who just so happen to be making out”.

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Bosses at the Uffizi were not amused at the gallery’s inclusion in Pornhub’s series and have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile in Paris, the Louvre’s management has said only that it is ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay remained silent on the subject.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

The Uffizi does, however, provide a great day out for all the family and contains a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present it is operating with reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.