The Bulgarian sculptor who cast the 16-foot bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin located in Fremont has died, according to his son.
Emil Venkov, the Bulgarian sculptor who created the statue of Vladimir Lenin that presides over Fremont, died on June 9 at the age of 79, according to his son Ivan.
The Association of Slovak Artists also put out a statement recognizing Venkov’s contributions to monumentalist sculpture in Slovakia.
Venkov’s 16-foot bronze of Lenin — weighing eight tons — depicts the Communist revolutionary leader emerging from leaping flames.
It had been commissioned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and was installed in the city of Poprad in the former Czechoslovakia in 1988. Poprad is now in Slovakia.
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The following year, when the Communist Party was overthrown, the statue was quietly removed.
The statue was found in a Poprad scrap yard by Issaquah native Lewis Carpenter in 1993, who famously mortgaged his home to finance its transport. The statue arrived in Seattle that year and was installed in Fremont by fellow bronze sculptor Peter Bevis two years later.
The Carpenter family still owns the statue, which has been on sale since 1995. As of 2015, its asking price was $250,000 or best offer.
As an art installation in one of the city’s quirkiest neighborhoods, the statue immediately drew criticism and remains a source of controversy. As recently as 2015, vandals painted the statue’s hands red in protest of the Communist leader’s policies.
Still, others take a lighter tone when making modifications. Lenin has been known to sport a tutu during Seattle’s gay pride parade and has been strung with Christmas lights around the holidays.
Born on August 22, 1937 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Venkov spent much of his adult life in Slovakia. He studied at the College of Fine Arts in Sofia and the College of Fine Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia, focusing on relief and monument sculpture. Many of his works, including the Lenin statue, were cast in bronze.
Venkov’s funeral will be held next Friday in Bratislava, according to Ivan Venkov.