A Sh*tload Of Gold

maurizio_gold_toilet.jpg

Maurizio Cattelan is installing an 18k gold toilet in a restroom at the Guggenheim. How much gold is that?

The rendering appears to show a standard Kohler toilet, but in solid gold. According to Amazon, that toilet, with a seat, weighs 62 pounds, around 28kg. At around $40,000/kg, that prices out to around a million dollars right now. [When Chris Burden tried to show a stack of 100 1-kg gold bars at Gagosian in LA in 2009, it cost around $3 million, $30k/kg. But their gold dealer Allen Stanford got arrested for multi-billion-dollar fraud before he could deliver. I don't know how that ended up, but there are worse economic fates than being stuck holding gold for a few months at the beginning of 2009.]

Anyway, the thing is, porcelain and gold have different densities. Porcelain is 2.5g/cm^3, and gold is 19.29g/cm^3. So if the entire volume of porcelain in a porcelain toilet is swapped out with gold, that thing is not going to weigh 28kg, but nearly 8x more, say 210kg, which is like $8.2 million. The seat alone will weigh like 12kg, so be careful lifting it-and putting it down.

Now anyone knows you don't need that much solid gold to make a solid toilet, though. A stainless steel toilet weighs around 20kg, and steel has a density of 7.82 g/cm^3, so an identically made gold toilet would require just 50kg of gold, around $2 million.

Let's see how this all goes down.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: April 29, 2016.

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