Last September, the Trumps asked to borrow Vincent van Gogh’s “Landscape with Snow” from the Guggenheim and were quickly rebuffed by Nancy Spector, the museum’s chief curator who responded to this request with a very polite Sorry, no, but are you interested in a literal gold toilet instead? Spector was simply doing what good curators do: suggesting an art piece that is more in line with the purchaser’s sensibility. Since Trump was not interested in Maurizio Cattelan’s “America,” I’ve compiled a list of other pieces he might want instead.
Damien Hirst’s “For the Love of God” is an obvious contender. It’s an 18th-century skull covered in exactly 8,601 diamonds, one of which is pink and pear-shaped and apparently very valuable. Somehow, it is valued at $50 million, which is a lot of money to spend on something that is useless and ugly and would probably just be used as a paperweight on Trump’s Oval Office desk.
If that’s not gaudy or interesting enough, anything by Takashi Murakami is a great option, particularly “Invoking the Vitality of a Universe Beyond Imagination,” a sculpture coated in platinum leaf. Murakami comes with the added bonus of name recognition for someone as brand-conscious as Trump, who probably associates the Japanese artist’s name with his various Louis Vuitton collaborations.
Maybe Melania can ask to borrow the Birkin bag George Condo painted for Kim Kardashian West. Birkins, much like works of art, are difficult to acquire — if you are rich but not famous, you have to go on a waitlist to get one, and the cheapest Birkin will still cost you upwards of $7000 — and are therefore a timeless signifier of class.
David Černy’s “Brown Nosers” is a giant sculpture of a man’s gaping asshole. If you climb up the ladder attached to the gaping asshole and peer inside, you will see a TV screen playing a video of Czech politicians feeding each other. He could put it in the Rose Garden.
Jordan Wolfson’s “Female Figure” is a sexy, scantily clad robot lady that dances in front of a mirror.
Another good option would be any and every Jeff Koons sculpture, but particularly “Bouquet of Tulips,” which Koons made in commemoration of the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris. The sculpture depicts a “bouquet” of balloons, as is Koons’ custom, meant to represent hope and peace and optimism and whatever. One French artist said it would be better suited for Trump Tower.
The president is a traditional man who does not like change, which is why he eats McDonald’s every day and has not updated his sense of style since the ‘80s. He may enjoy Andreas Gursky’s “Rhein II,” a famous picture of the Rhine river which sold for $4 million American dollars. It’s just a picture of a river.
Then there’s Leidy Churchman’s “Tallest Residential Tower in the Western Hemisphere,” a painting of the view from a bathroom in 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan. It’s worth noting that this painting is really just a copy of a promotional photo used to sell apartments at 432 Park to foreign billionaires who will never step foot in the building and use multi-million dollar apartments as tax havens.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the owners of these works won’t want to loan these expensive pieces of art, because lending violates the inherently American concept of price gouging everyone at every possible opportunity. The more purely Trumpian move would be to just buy what he wants.
Correction: This article previously stated that Takashi Murakami's sculpture was on view at the Gagosian. It was part of a Gagosian show in 2014.