Parisian vandals attack, deflate 'sex toy' sculpture

US artist Paul McCarthy's 'Tree' creation. Vandals attacked the giant green inflatable structure after its resemblance to a sex toy sparked an outcry.

Vandals attack a giant green sculpture in Paris after its resemblance to a sex toy sparks an outcry.

"An unidentified group of people cut the cables which were holding the artwork, which caused it to collapse," says the police, referring to the incident that occurred in the early hours of Oct 19. "The person responsible for the piece then decided to deflate it to avoid it being more seriously damaged."

The 24m high artwork by US artist Paul McCarthy was unveiled two days before the incident in Place Vendome - the square in Paris that's famous for its luxury jewellery stores and the Ritz Hotel. By the afternoon after its deflation, the sculpture had been removed from the square.

McCarthy had told French newspaper Le Monde that the sculpture, entitled Tree, was inspired both by a sex toy called a "buttplug" and a Christmas tree. It was part of the International Contemporary Art Fair taking place in Paris from Oct 23 to 26.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the attack is unacceptable, while also denouncing an assault on McCarthy the day he installed the work, when a man hit him in the face before running away.

"Paris will not succumb to the threats of those who, by attacking an artist or a work, are attacking artistic freedom," she says in a statement. "Art has its place in our streets and nobody will be able to chase it away."