- A wooden statue of Melania Trump near near hometown in Slovenia was set on fire.
- Brad Downey, the artist who commissioned the statue, told Reuters that it was set on fire on July 4.
- He had it removed once he found out about the damage.
- The statue, which was carved with a chainsaw, is known for its loose depiction of the US first lady.
- Downey said he wanted it to start conversations about US politics and immigration, given Melania's status as an immigrant.
- Police are investigating, but so far there is little to suggest who may be responsible.
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A statue of US First Lady Melania Trump has been removed from its location hear her home town in Slovenia after it was set on fire.
The life-sized wooden statue, near the town of Sevnica, was set on fire on July 4, as the US celebrated its Independence Day, according to the artist who commissioned the statue, Reuters reported.
Brad Downey, an American artist based in Berlin, Germany, told Reuters that police informed him about the fire on July 5. He said he had the statue removed as it had been blackened by the flames.
Police told Reuters that an investigation is underway, and that they could not comment further.
"I want to know why they did it," Downey told Reuters.
Downey said he hoped the statue would start a dialogue about US politics, especially given Melania Trump's status as an immigrant married to a president who has pledged to reduce immigration.
He said he wanted to interview those responsible for a film he is working on.
The statue had been unveiled a year earlier, in July 2019, and drew attention for only having a lose resemblance to Melania.
Downey said at the time that he understood why some people thought the sculpture "falls short as a description of her physical appearance" but maintained it was still "absolutely beautiful."
In the statue, Melania is wearing a blue coat, similar to the one she wore for Trump's 2017 inauguration.
The sculpture was carved by Ales "Maxi" Zupevc, an artist living in Sevnica, who used a chainsaw on a tree to create it.
Born in Slovenia, Melania Trump immigrated to the US in 1996.
Sevnica saw a booming tourism industry after she became first lady, with shops there selling everything from wine to slippers branded after her, The New York Times reported in 2018.
Tourism to the town increased, but some residents were weary, and wanted the town's other charms to also be known.
Documents have suggested that she may have broken US immigration law, as she entered the country on a tourist visa and then worked as a model.
She has previously said that she has always complied with US immigration law.
A wooden statue of Donald Trump was also burned in Slovenia last year, in the city of Moravce, Reuters noted.
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