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Melania Trump statue in Slovenia removed after being set on fire
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Melania Trump statue in Slovenia removed after being set on fire

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A statue of Melania Trump has been removed from near her hometown in Slovenia after being badly burned by vandals, the artist who commissioned the sculpture told CNN Thursday.

The statue, near Sevnica, central Slovenia, was set alight on July 4, artist Brad Downey said.

See photos of Melania Trump through the years in a gallery at the end of this story

Downey said he received a call from the local police department asking him what to do with the statue, which was made in July 2019 as part of an ongoing project that includes a short documentary film.

He said the statue was removed on July 4 and he asked locals not to distribute photos of the scorched figure so it did not become a "violent meme."

Downey has filed a police report but said he is only interested in finding the attackers, not pressing charges against them.

"I would be curious to see who did it," he told CNN. "Someone doesn't like what it represents or how it looks," said Downey, who believes that the timing of the attack -- on US Independence Day -- means it was not a random "drunken act."

CNN has contacted Slovenian Police for comment.

Downey has since posted a video of the statue being removed on his Instagram account.

Downey previously told CNN that he was inspired to create the piece due to what he called the "anti-immigration narrative" coming out of the US and from Donald Trump in particular.

Slovenia Melania Trump Statue

In this Friday, July 5, 2019 photo, a sculpture created by American artist Brad Downey depicting Melania Trump is seen in her hometown in Sevnica, Slovenia. A life-size sculpture of the U.S. first lady has been unveiled in her hometown of Sevnica, drawing mixed reactions from the locals. (AP Photo/Miro Majcen)

He said it was a "contradiction" that the US President, who has made halting immigration a cornerstone of his presidency, is married to an immigrant whose first language is not English.

Downey commissioned a local conceptual artist named Ales Zupevc, better known as Maxi, who was born in the same hospital and the same year as the first lady, to carve the statue from a tree using a chainsaw.

Although media reports said the statue had divided public opinion, locals like the project and have looked after the statue and the surrounding area, said Downey.

"They've been nothing but supportive," he said. "They were really proud of this thing."

Downey told CNN he is working on an artistic response to the attack, as well as a video on the media's response to the statue.

"I'll probably try to do something in that location," he said, adding that the "deeply burned" original statue is now in storage.

Downey also released a book -- "Slapstick Formalism" -- last month and is preparing for a new exhibition in Slovenia in September.

Sevnica is a sleepy town of 5,000 that has profited from its most famous daughter, placing itself firmly on the tourist trail and selling a range of Melania-themed products including honey, chocolate and cake.

Photos: Melania Trump through the years

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