Public invited to ‘spend a penny’ on an 18-carat gold toilet

Fully functional toilet at New York’s Guggenheim Museum opens on Friday

The public are being invited to “spend a penny” in a way they may never have before by using a solid gold toilet at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The fully functional 18-carat gold lavatory is the work of Italian artist and sculptor Maurizio Cattelan and has been installed at one of the museum's public bathrooms, the New Yorker reports.

The Fifth Avenue museum describes the piece as “a bold, irreverent work”.

The lavatory has replaced one of the Guggenheim’s porcelain toilets in a one-person, unisex toilet and visitors who pay museum admission will be able to use it as they wish, the BBC reports.


According to the New Yorker, after the piece was installed Mr Cattelan (55), a Milan-based artist and a truck driver’s son said: “Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”

The exhibit is aimed at “making available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 per cent”, the museum says.

“Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.

“Cattelan’s toilet 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 artwork was originally due to open to the public on May 4th. However, the museum had difficulty casting the work, which is an exact replica of the toilet which was originally in the single-person toilet, ABC news reports.

It will open to the public on Friday.