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Toilet Seat Art Museum up for sale

Barney Smith, 96, poses for a picture outside his Toilet Seat Art Museum in Alamo Heights

ALAMO HEIGHTS -- For more than a half-century, a retired plumber in Alamo Heights has been turning toilet seats into works of art.

But the man known as the "King of the Commode" has announced he's stepping down from the throne.

So we went to find out why the keys to his kingdom are now up for sale.

Barney Smith will take a selfie with you at his museum.

But he won't say "cheese". He says "toilet seat".

Just schedule an appointment, and you too could meet the owner, operator, and artist behind the world's biggest -- and perhaps only -- Toilet Seat Art Museum.

"Barney creates art onto toilet seats," says fellow artist and friend Carye Bye. "And he hasn't stopped for fifty years."

Purveyor of Porcelain. King of the Commode. Lord of the Lids.

"There's a lot of history hanging in here," Barney says as people file into his lid lair.

You might say this museum is overflowing with history, dating back 53 years.

"Each one of them has got a story," Barney adds with a smile.

1,321 toilet seats in all from Batman to the Berlin Wall, the Olympic games to board games, Barbie and Ken to the local TV news.

"There's nothing in this area like it," says Carye. "And there's no one like him."

We last paid a visit to Barney's "lavatory laboratory" in 2011.

Just one seat, he told us back then, can take him as long as 100 hours to make. Six years later, his stamina isn’t what it used to be.

"I can't do what I used to do," Barney says with a sigh.

The reason, he says, is pretty simple.

"Because I'm getting so old. I'm 96 years old."

And so Barney's now looking to unload his collection.

"He would like to sell it to another museum," says Carye. "That’s what his hope is."

He’s looking for interested parties it with an assist from Clorox.

The company heard about Barney's museum and created a website – OdeToTheCommode.com - to showcase his art, spread the word, and help Barney find a buyer...flush with cash.

"If somebody wanted it for $15k or $20k or going up, I need their name and how much (they’re willing to pay)," says Barney. "I need it on a piece of paper."

He’ll take offers from anywhere, but he’d prefer it stay put.

"If we can save it and have it be here, that would be my ultimate," says Carye.

"Keep it here in Alamo Heights," adds Barney.

In the meantime, Barney will keep scheduling tours, as always, free of charge.

If interested in offering a bid or arranging a visit, just give him a call at 210-824-7791.

Head on over. Have a seat. But don't wait too long.

As Barney puts it, "I know that it won't be long until the Lord will call me and say, 'That's enough'."


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