STATUES which were supposed to survive 1,000 years have been wiped out by the Scottish weather just four weeks after being installed.
Six eerie iron statues of humans were sited knee-deep in Edinburgh’s Water of Leith in the name of art last month.
But two of Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley’s “6 Times” figurines were pushed over by the surging high tide following heavy rain earlier this week.
Parts of Scotland were deluged by almost a month’s rainfall in just 10 hours, leaving rivers and burns swollen close to bursting point.
Edinburgh, which gets an average of 79mm during July, had 22mm in four hours on Thursday.
Art officials insisted the statues were actually “designed to tip over” and are now gearing up to wade into the gushing river in the hope of hauling up the drowned sculpture.
They said they had been inundated with calls from art lovers worried the sprawling £400,000 project had been stolen because it can now barely be seen.
A source at the National Galleries of Scotland, which looks after the statues, said: “People really took these figures to heart when they were installed and now everybody’s worried they’ve been stolen.
“They’ve been calling and emailing us saying they’ve been nicked, but it’s nice people are so attached to them.
“Luckily we only have the Scottish weather to blame.”
Within days of being installed, cheeky locals in Leith welcomed the life-sized statues by decking them out in bikinis, y-fronts and even a McDonald’s uniform.
London-born artist Gormley, 59, stated previously he thought the statues could last until the year 3010.
And he shrugged off the suggestion vandals might wreck his work, with one already sporting a spray-painted face.
Speaking at the launch in June he said: “The works are very robust, they weigh three-quarters of a tonne each, they are solid, and, although I would not go as far as saying they are indestructible, you would need to expend a lot of effort to do lasting harm.
“I would say that they should last about 1,000 years.
“It will rust, so it will have its own organic relationship with that exposure, and it asks where human beings fit in the greater scheme of things.”
The project was sparked when Gormley agreed to create something for the National Galleries of Scotland but insisted taking his work beyond the gallery walls.
The gallery said last night that the statues were “designed to tip over.”
A spokesperson said: “It has been noted that the figures in the Water of Leith at Powderhall and Bonnington, which form part of the Antony Gormley sculpture 6 Times, are no longer visible.
“The figures have been designed to tip over under certain amounts of pressure or force, minimising any flood risk.
“In light of the recent adverse weather conditions it is highly likely that the figures have tipped over and are now submerged in the water.
“Once the water has receded a thorough investigation of each site will be undertaken and the figures will be restored.”