A STATUE of Melania Trump has been destroyed near her European hometown after being set ablaze by local vandals.
The first lady's monument, which stood near her hometown of Sevnica in central Slovenia, was reportedly torched on July 5.
Slovenian Police said in a statement sent to CNN on Thursday that it was considering the vandalism as "damage to property which is a criminal offense."
The statue was carved by local folks artist Alex "Maxi Zupevc" and erected in July 2019 as part of an ongoing project that includes a short documentary film.
Brad Downey, the artist who commissioned the tribute piece, told Reuters he had the life-sized blackened, disfigured sculpture of Melania taken down once police once cops informed him of the incident.
The 39-year-old told CNN he asked locals in Europe not to share photos of the scorched statue so it didn't become a "violent meme."
"I want to know why they did it," said Downey, who had hoped his creation would spark a conversation about the current political climate in the US.
"I would be curious to see who did it. Someone doesn't like what it represents or how it looks."
Although the statue's face was crudely carved before the fire, it was painted with a blue wraparound coat resembling the one worn by the first lady during President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017.
Downey added that he believes the vandalism was intentional given the timing of the attack – on the weekend of US Independence Day – which means it wasn't a random "drunken act."
He shared a video of the statue being removed on his Instagram page.
A post shared byBRAD DOWNEY (@bigtimebrad) on
Downey, who filed a police report, said he wants to interview the culprits, if found, for an upcoming film he's working on ahead of his exhibition due to open in Slovenia in September.
"The investigation in this case has not been completed yet so we cannot reveal the details due to the interest of further procedures," police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik told Reuters.
A large wooden statue resembling the president, designed by a local artist last year, was set alight near Slovenia's capital city Ljubljana, according to the news outlet.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Sun.
Locals in Slovenian bashed the first lady's statue as a "disgrace" and a joke shortly after it went up last summer.
"It doesn't look anything like Melania – it's a smurfette. It's a disgrace. That's what I have to say," one local said.
A gallery in Ljubljana hosted an exhibition detailing Melania's Slovenian roots expressed skepticism towards the work of art.
In a leaflet, it said: "Perhaps we are simply trying vigorously to make sense of things that might only be a slapstick prank – Who knows?"
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