NEW YORK: It’s not as ostentatious an experience as ‘America’, the 18-karat gold toilet by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim, but a new public toilet in the Beaux Arts building at Bryant Park which cost a cool $300,000 to upgrade has some other fancy and welcome perks for the discerning: full-time attendant, classical music, coffered ceiling, imported tiles, fresh flowers, self-flushing, energy-saving toilets, hands-free faucets and wash basins, and for those extremely sensitive to the matter: sanitary, electronic seat covers that rotate with each use.
The new posh toilet which is inspired from toilets like in Waldorf Astoria, had a tissue ‘ribbon’ cutting ceremony on Thursday.
Dan Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Corp., explained that the toilet was for free for the public, no tips would be accepted, and the brand names used in the facility bespoke of “perfection” and “excellence.”
Now, the solid gold ‘America’ is an artistic attempt meant to provoke the public, to show that everybody has a chance at exhilarating heights of success and wealth – as one ruminated on that aspect, one would assume, standing, crouched, or hovering on it; the untitled toilet facility at the Beaux Arts Building has no such loft aspirations: it’s just another great New York experience for tourists who flock in droves, click photos by the dozens.
The parks department says the bathroom, even before the three months it took to renovate it, received 1.2 million visitors last year. It opened around 25 years ago.
Not that there are no other toilets that match in comparison to ‘America’ and the one at Bryant Park.
The Moon River Art Park toilet in Shanghai, China reportedly cost $750,000 to build in its natural environs. One has to pay the park fees to use the facility though. Then there’s the $5 million Hang Fung Gold Technology Group toilet made of gold, which unlike the Guggenheim, though, is only meant for viewing, not use.
There is no dearth of tales of extravagance in New York City, for those who like to splurge. This is a city where a private luxury suite at the MetLife Stadium costs around $400,000, an ice cream at Serendipity 3 can set one back $1000, bottle service at some nightclubs begin at $1,000 with a bottle of champagne at $7,500; a cocktail with a diamond ring in the glass at Uncorked costs a heady $10,000, and a pizza at Nino’s Bellissima Pizzeria is only $1,000 – stuffed as it is with caviar. Of course, that pales in comparison to the world’s most expensive burger, the ‘Seven Emirates Burgerstack’ sold in Dubai for $10,000.
Other cities do try to match the act once in a while: a few years ago, Le Meridien Hotel in Philadelphia sold a $1,000 martini, partnering with Swarovski, the jewelry company, with a drink called Getaway. Recently, Blossom Cocktail Lounge at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, served a $1,000 ‘Dom-arita’, which comes topped with an entire bottle of Dom Perignon Brut Champagne.
But for those tourists who cannot afford such decadent luxury, a trip to the Guggenheim, leisurely stroll through Times Square, a picnic comprising of lunch from mobile food stalls, on the picture-perfect lawns of Bryant Park ensconced by high rise towers, on a bright, beautiful sunny day, will still make one feel like a millionaire.