MOSCOW (AFP) - Workers on Friday began to dismantle a giant Louis Vuitton trunk that triggered an outcry after it was erected on Moscow's iconic Red Square.
The brown suitcase-shaped pavilion measuring 9m in height by 30m in length and covered in the luxury brand's signature golden "LV" stencilling was put up as a publicity stunt nearly two weeks ago.
But many tourists and ordinary Russians complained it was blocking views of most landmark sites, the Communist Party was outraged by its proximity to Lenin's tomb, and preservationists stressed that Red Square is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Following days of furious media commentary and after the Kremlin, which has official jurisdiction of the square, said it had not granted permission for the structure, it was ordered dismantled.
Dozens of workers and six cranes surrounded the trunk around mid-day on Friday, unscrewing the huge brass-like clasps and rolling up the soft covering that stretched over its metal frame.
The 19th century upmarket GUM department store, which faces Red Square across from the Kremlin, had envisioned the trunk as one of the elements of its 120th anniversary celebrations, but on Wednesday disowned the exhibit, saying it was too big.
The controversy appeared to take the brand by surprise, with Louis Vuitton director Michael Burke telling the Kommersant daily on Friday that he "absolutely does not understand what has happened in Moscow in the last two days".
He said GUM had invited the brand and dealt with all permission documents, adding that the exhibit was much smaller than previous installations on Red Square, such as the giant mirror cube put up by Dior to house a fashion show this summer.
Two Moscow parks have said that they could house the exhibition, which was to feature famous personalities using Louis Vuitton luggage.
In the end, "our future exhibit will only gain, since people's interest in it will increase exponentially", Mr Burke said.