A gay couple, who were the first to be married in the world, have created an art installation which is a life-like waxwork of the former Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, imagined dead.

The work, called ‘Il Sogno degli Italiani,’ (i.e., ‘The Dream of the Italians’), is the creation of Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento, who were the first gay couple to tie the knot in Amsterdam, back in 2002.

The title is of course a reference to what Mr Berlusconi is thought to have called himself on the phone to one of his young girlfriends.

The artwork shows Mr Berlusconi lying dead in a glass coffin, eyes closed, face smiling, wearing a pair of giant Mickey Mouse slippers, with one hand resting on the History of Italy, and the other nested deep down his unzipped trousers.

The artwork is openly exhibited at the Ferrajoli Palace, which is just a few yards away from Palazzo Chigi, the official residence of the Italian Prime Minister.

Of the installation, the artist couple said in a statement: “We put Berlusconi’s body into a glass case to emphasise the personality cult that he has been creating for all these years and which will possibly remain for years to come,” adding: “At the same time we put a screen between the contingent reality and historical judgment.”

They added: “If Italians are ultimately ‘a people of saints, poets, seafarers’ then the arch-Italian Silvio is a worthy simulacrum of this people.”

Mr Berlusconi stepped down last year over the debt crisis that had affected Italy, though he was also facing growing calls for resignation over his alleged liaisons with under-age girls.

The former prime minister is also openly homophobic, once promising Italian Catholics that gay couples will never be permitted to marry nor adopt children, and once saying that it was better to like pretty women, in the context of personal or professional failings, than being gay.

A trial is underway on allegations that he paid for sleeping with a young woman, Karima El Mahroug (known as Ruby the Heartbreaker), when she was just 17 years old.