Melania Trump Statue in Slovenia Set on Fire

Vandals set fire to a statue of First Lady Melania Trump in Sevnica, Slovenia, near her hometown, on July 5, Slovenian police confirmed to CNN.

Brad Downey, an American Berlin-based artist, said Slovenian police contacted him, telling him the statue—which he commissioned for a short documentary film in 2019—had been vandalized and asked what he planned to do with it, he told CNN on Thursday.

Downey said he decided to have it removed as soon as possible and asked the local residents not to distribute pictures of the statue to prevent it from becoming a “meme.” The statue has been placed in storage.

He filed a police report but said he doesn’t want to press charges—though he is interested in knowing who’s responsible .

“I would be curious to see who did it. Someone doesn’t like what it represents or how it looks,” Downey said, adding that he doesn’t believe the timing of the attack—which happened on Independence Day weekend in the United States—is a coincidence.

Downey, 39, told Reuters he wants to interview the vandals to ask “why they did it” for a documentary he’s making that’s scheduled to be released in September.

“The investigation in this case has not been completed yet so we cannot reveal details due to the interest of further procedures,” Slovenian police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik told Reuters.

In Slovenia, damage to property is a criminal offense, and police are regarding the vandalism as such.

In the meantime, Downey is working on an art piece he will place in the same location, as well as a video that features the media response to the original statue as well.

He said locals liked the statue and looked after it when it was there.

“They’ve been nothing but supportive,” Downey told CNN. “They were really proud of this thing.”

Reuters reported that the statue was commissioned from a folk artist in the area named Ales “Maxi” Zupevc, who used a chainsaw to create the statue, which used to be the trunk of a linden tree. Zupevc was born in the same hospital and the same year as the first lady.