The family sculpture – depicting a mother, father and child – stood for a number of years at The Orchards shopping centre in Haywards Heath.
But a photo of the abandoned bronze, dumped on its back in a Mid Sussex scrap yard, was posted on social media this week.
And it provoked a howl of public outrage with people describing it as ‘a total waste’ and ‘so sad.’
A number of suggestions were put forward as to where it should have gone such as Victoria Park or the grounds of the Princess Royal Hospital.
One person described it as ‘a piece of Haywards Heath history’ and another suggested it should have been sold at auction and the money given to a local hospice.
Another said: “Mum dad and a kid … heaven forbid that's not allowed in our society any more … whatever was anyone thinking?”
The sculpture was removed from the shopping centre four years ago to allow more space for events to be held there.
But question marks have now been raised over whether the sculpure – called ‘Family Outing’ – spotted in the scrap yard is actually the one once sited at The Orchards.
A number of similar sculptures were once on display at shopping centres around the country.
A spokesperson for Mid Sussex District Council, which owns The Orchards, said: “This statue was removed from The Orchards four years ago by RB Construction who were asked to dispose of it.
“There used to be 13 of these exact same statues dotted around the country, they were all based at centres owned by Norwich Union.
"The one at The Orchards was one of the last to be removed four years ago – it was removed to allow The Orchards more space to hold events.
“Either this isn’t the one from The Orchards or the construction company have only just got round to disposing of it now.”
A spokesperson at the recycling centre where the sculpture was spotted declined to comment.