A FOUNTAIN which would cost half a million pounds to recreate is among a list of treasured art items believed to be lost to the public.

The water feature, affectionately known as the Pineapple, used to stand outside the former Ford headquarters at Trafford House, in Cherrydown East, Basildon.

After the motor giant vacated the building, the iron sculpture was transferred into new ownership.

It disappeared and was reported missing by Colonnade, which originally bought Trafford House with a view of converting it into flats, in 2012.

Vin Harrop, founder of the Basildon Heritage Trail, fears the sculpture has already been melted down or sold for scrap.

He said: “It is very sad. Colonnade had said it was going to be transferred to Laindon Shopping Centre, which it also owned at the time, but subsequently it had gone missing.

“I have been down there and looked in all the units, but can’t find it, so I think somebody has helped themselves to it. It’s quite likely been melted down.”

The one-off sculpture, by William Mitchell, changed colour from silver to red when water ran down it, creating a glowing effect.

The artist estimates it would cost £500,000 to recreate the piece.

Each triangle in the pineapple was hand cut and dipped in water to create a rusted red colour.

Mr Harrop believes the piece became the responsibility of Basildon Council after the former Basildon Development Corporation was wound up in 1989.

Historic England, which has compiled a list of lost post-war art, has warned iconic pieces are “disappearing before the public’s eyes."

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “This research is only the tip of the iceberg as it’s almost impossible to trace what has happened to every piece of public art since 1945.

“What we do know is that this art work was commissioned and created for everyone to enjoy, and it should remain accessible to all.

“We also want to raise awareness of just how vulnerable these works can be and we want the public to help us track down lost pieces.”