A new metal statue to First Lady Melania Trump has been unveiled near her hometown in Slovenia.
The bronze statue replaces a wooden sculpture erected in 2019, which was set alight shortly afterwards by unknown arsonists.
Some described the original as a “disgrace” or a “Smurfette”, saying it did not look like Melania Trump.
The new one features a plaque dedicating the sculpture to “the eternal memory of a monument to Melania which stood at this location”.
The First Lady was born in Novo Mesto in 1970, but grew up in the town of Sevnica, when Slovenia was part of the Communist nation of Yugoslavia.
American artist Brad Downey commissioned the original piece and placed it outside Sevnica in 2019.
The sculpture carved out of a tree trunk by local chainsaw artisan Ales Zupevc and depicted Melania Trump in a blue coat like the one she wore to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, but bore only a loose resemblance to the First Lady.
The wooden sculpture was set alight on 4th of July this year, but Brad Downey has since exhibited the burnt statue in Slovenia, saying it “represents a visual representation of political tensions that are erupting in my country”.
The new statue, made of bronze and revealed to the public on September 15, is a replica of the original.
Slovenian artist Marko Vivoda told AP: “We are here today because we put up again a statue of Melania to the place where it was burnt and to commemorate the statue that was set on fire.”
Since the election of President Trump in 2016, tourists have come to Sevnica to learn more about the First Lady’s origins.
Residents have brought out ranges of Melania-branded merchandise, including slippers, cakes, and Trump-like burgers with fly-away cheese “hair”.
A wooden statue of Donald Trump also appeared in Sevnica last year.
The nearly 26ft tall statue depicted him with a square head and jaw and was similarly controversial before also being burnt down by unknown culprits in January 2020.
A statue of First Lady Melania Trump is reported to have been set on fire near her hometown in Slovenia, prompting its removal.
Brad Downey, the American artist who commissioned the statue, said it was targeted on the Independence Day.
The Berlin-based artist arranged for the charred statue to be removed the next day.
Police told Reuters they had launched an investigation.
The wooden sculpture of Melania Trump, which could be described as only bearing a crude likeness to the US first lady, was carved out of a tree trunk on the outskirts of Sevnica, her hometown in central Slovenia.
The statue, which depicts the first lady dressed in a blue coat similar to one she wore to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and with a club-like hand gesturing to the sky, received mixed reviews when it was erected in July 2019.
Some residents branded the statue a “disgrace”, complaining it looked more like the Smurfs character Smurfette than the first lady.
Brad Downey told Reuters he wanted to understand who targeted the statue and why.
The artist said he had hoped the statue would open a dialogue about the political situation in the US, including the fractious debate on immigration.
Melania Trump, a model who grew up in Slovenia when it was part of Yugoslavia, moved to the US in the 1990s.
The statue in Slovenia was targeted at a time when monuments of US leaders with links to slavery are being re-evaluated as a result of national reflection prompted by anti-racism protests.