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Have a Seat on the Golden Throne

September 20, 2016

We at the Bathroom Readers’ Institute already think the toilet is a work of art unto itself. At long last, the prestigious Guggenheim Museum agrees with us. Presenting the solid gold toilet.
Guggenheim Gold Toilet
Last week, the prestigious Guggenheim in New York City, one of the most famous museums in the world, cleared all the exhibits from its fourth-floor rotunda. All that remained was a small, single-stall restroom. And in that room was the only piece of art on the whole floor: a solid gold toilet.
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is behind the project, which is an exact replica of the regular porcelain toilets found in other restrooms at the Guggenheim. In fact, he asked the museum to send him two of theirs to work from. They did, and he sent back to them this 18-karat gold toilet, cast in just a few pieces and then welded together. (The Guggenheim then hired a local plumber to carefully install the throne.) The only thing on the toilet (estimated value: $2 million) that isn’t gold is the flush handle. It’s brass, but plated in gold so the color would match.
A true landmark in “interactive art,” the toilet is fully functional. Guggenheim guests are happily waiting upwards of an hour for their chance to engage with the toilet. Only one guest at a time may see or use the toilet, and they have to leave their bags outside while they do. A security guard stands outside the gold toilet at all times, and after each guests performs a brief security check to make sure no part of the toilet has been stolen or vandalized.
Janitorial staff sweeps in to clean the toilet every 15 minutes. But they can’t use the stuff they use to clean the Guggenheim’s other toilets. Instead, the staff uses special cleaning wipes from which hydrogen peroxide has been removed—that cleaning agent would destroy the gold finish. Steam cleanings will be performed on the toilet periodically, after the museum is closed for the day.
The toilet/exhibit actually has a name: “America.” Some kind of comment on American excess, or a swipe at the wealthy? Not according to Cattelan. He thinks his solid gold toilet is quite populist. He told one reporter that it’s “100 percent art for the 99 percent.”

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