- The life-size Melania Trump figure was left blackened and disfigured on July 4th
- Sculpture was unveiled in July 2019 in Melania's home town of Sevnica, Slovenia
- Brad Downey, a Berlin-based American artist, has since had the effigy removed
A wooden sculpture of US first lady Melania Trump has been torched near her hometown in Slovenia.
The life-sized statue was left blackened and disfigured on its plinth near Sevnica, Slovenia, on July 4th - when Americans celebrated US Independence Day.
Brad Downey, a Berlin-based American artist who commissioned the piece, had the sculpture removed the next day, as soon as police told him it had been destroyed.
'I want to know why they did it,' said Downey. The statue was erected in July 2019 to highlight Melania's status as an immigrant married to an anti-immigration president.
In Washington, the office of Melania Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The first lady, born Melanija Knavs, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modelling. She settled in New York in 1996 and met Trump two years later.
They married in January 2005 and share one child - Baron Trump, 14.
There are mixed feelings about Melania in Slovenia where hopes were high she would promote her picturesque Alpine home country after Trump took office.
But she has rarely mentioned Slovenia in her public appearances, and has not visited the small central European country since Trump's inauguration.
In recent weeks, Trump has pledged to take a hard line on anyone destroying or vandalizing US historical monuments, as political activism against racial injustice swept across the country.
Downey, 39, said he had filed a police report and would like to interview the culprits, if found, for a film he is preparing 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 details due to the interest of further procedures,' said police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik.
Although the statue's face was rough-hewn and unrecognizable prior to the fire, the figure was painted with a pale blue wraparound coat resembling the one Melania Trump wore at President Trump's inauguration.
The figure was carved with a chainsaw by local folk artist Ales Zupevc from the trunk of a living linden tree.
In January, a large wooden statue resembling Donald Trump, designed by a local artist last year, was burnt.
The nearly 26-foot high construction, erected last year in the village of Sela pri Kamniku in Slovenia, showed Trump with his trademark hair style, blue suit, white shirt and a long red tie.
His right arm - fist clenched - was raised high like that of New York's Statue of Liberty.
When triggered, a mechanism inside the statue opened a red-painted mouth and shark-like teeth used to appear.
Slovenian police are looking for the arsonist, authorities confirmed today.
Although the construction quickly became a tourist attraction, some local villagers were unhappy with its appearance, pledging to torch it by Halloween.
As a result it had to be moved to another village, near Kamnik, in the area, around 50 miles from Sevnica.
Tomaz Schlegl, the statue's creator, said when he unveiled the piece last August: 'Like all populists, the statue has two faces. One is humane and nice, the other is that of a vampire.'
Milan Balazic, the mayor of Moravce where the statue ended up, said that unknown arsonists burned it.
He said the torching of the statue 'is symbol of intolerance toward artistic projects in our society'.