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‘Possibly the worst artwork ever seen’: Prince Philip statue to be removed for second time

A Prince Philip statue, described as possibly the worst artwork one council has ever seen, is to be removed for a second time.

Ten years after ‘The Don’ statue was first erected in Cambridge without planning permission, it is now set to be removed after an enforcement notice was issued earlier this month.

The Unex Group, a property developer and land owners at Charter House where the statue is, installed the 4m abstract statue outside a city centre office block after it was previously removed.

Back in 2014 it had been initially put up along the same road, in front of a different set of office blocks, but was retrospectively refused permission and taken down.

The statue was initially erected to mark the late Duke of Edinburgh’s 35 years as chancellor of Cambridge University.

Reported to cost £150,000, it shows Prince Philip wearing an academic cap and gown.

However, it was not welcomed at the time, with the council’s then public art coordinator saying it was possibly the worst piece of art they’d ever seen.

They said it was “possibly the poorest quality work that has ever been submitted to the council” and added: “As a standalone work it is not of the best quality; its shortcomings would be exacerbated by being put next to the proposed building and within a small space, which was not designed to take the work.”

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In 2023, the abstract statue was erected once more, but again was rejected by the local council who have given the owners until 11 April to appeal the decision and 11 August to remove it.

But speaking to The Times, The Unex Group’s chairman made it clear he intended to move the artwork.

The decision has been welcomed locally, with Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning, saying: “It has been described as ‘kitsch-like’ and ‘detritus masquerading as public art’ and nobody, apart from the wealthy property developer who commissioned it, seems to have a good word to say about it.

“I will be glad to see it gone, but remain angry that developers could just dump it in place and then force the council to spend officers’ time and money getting them to take it away. We deserve better. I hope that this makes it clear that local authorities will work to enforce planning regulations.”

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Whilst it was reported that Piero Atchugarry was the artist behind the statue, he later denied it.

The Unex Group and Piero Atchugarry have been approached for comment.

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