The artist behind the iconic red telephone boxes sculpture in Kingston considered legal action over damage from a Cath Kidston-branded snowflake Christmas makeover.
David Mach, the sculptor behind “Out of Order”, installed in 1989, did not know about the redesign until town centre managers Kingstonfirst contacted him afterwards.
The former Turner Prize nominee was relaxed about the revamp until conservation group the Kingston Society told him it may have been damaged.
Light red and grey spots are still visible where the dots appear to have been lifted off.
David Mach, pictured in the Surrey Comet in December 1989, at the opening of his famous Kingston sculpture
A spokesman for Mr Mach said the artist had initially consulted a solicitor over potential legal action, but has since decided not to pursue the case.
She said: “They did something without telling us first, then sent Mr Mach an email telling him about it with a picture.
“Mr Mach sat back at first and said no problem, until the Kingston Society got in touch to say what they did had damaged the sculpture.
“The next step for us is to go and have a look.
“David won’t be too happy if they have repainted it the wrong colour, but maybe it’s time to talk to the council and see what they have to say.
“There’s not much we can do about it now but if they want to do anything else with it then they should ask us first.”
The telphone boxes were branded with Cath Kidston snowflakes for Christmas
Kingston Society chairman Jennifer Butterworth said: “We were dismayed that this was being done without the artist’s consent, let alone knowledge.
“I’m yet to be convinced that the application of white snowflakes did not damage the boxes.
“This particular piece of artwork needs high maintenance if it is to remain witty and amusing, and not tatty. We abhor the use of it for advertising.”
The phone boxes as they appeared at Christmas
A Kingstonfirst spokesman said: “This was a hugely successful campaign for Kingston – over 700,000 people have engaged on social media and online really putting Kingston on the map.
“The project enabled the phone boxes’ broken panels to be repaired and the phone boxes are going to be completely repainted, putting them in the best condition they have been in since their launch.
“These telephone boxes are our version of ‘I Am Amsterdam’ – it’s our iconic piece of art where every visitor has their photo taken with and something we should constantly promote and celebrate.”