France: Artist punched in face over giant inflatable Christmas tree that looks like sex toy

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The artist behind an inflatable Christmas tree in Paris that like a sex toy has been punched in the face, after anti-gay groups stirred objections to the piece.

The 80ft tree, made by LA-based artist Paul McCarthy, was erected this week in Place Vendome, near Paris city centre, but had attracted criticism because it looked like a giant butt plug.

It was popped by vandals overnight – just a day after far-right group Printemps Francais claimed the work had “disfigured” Paris.

Mr McCarthy, the artist behind the piece, revealed that he was also personally assaulted by a man over the giant tree.

He says he was accosted by the unknown man while erecting the piece, who screamed that the work did not belong in France because he is American.

The man reportedly hit him in the face three times. Mr McCarthy was not seriously injured in the attack, but said he was ‘shocked’ it had happened.

Jennifer Flay of art body Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain said: “It’s heartbreaking that anyone would attack an artist.”

She added that she was “embarrassed for France” following the negative reaction to the piece.

A police spokesperson said of the vandalism: “Individuals have severed the cables that hold the sculpture in place, taking advantage of a momentary lack of a security guard.”

“Investigations are ongoing.”