I knew there was a Bela Lugosi statue somewhere in City Park in Budapest, but hadn’t found it in our previous trips. On my trip to visit family in Budapest in 2015, I was wonderfully surprised to find it on the side of the Vajdahunyad Castle. Thanks to my cousin Zoltán for recording this personal moment for me.
As you might know Bela was a close friend of my grandfather, Kalman Marki, and I am writing a book which contains a lot of new information about their relationship as actors and as political activists. Details on Sander’s Writing Project.
In June, 2016, Zoltán discovered the name of the sculptor. I wrote to Hartmut Zech and now you can read the story of the statue. (I have edited the story a bit to correct typos.)
From Hartmut's Website
“The Vajdahunyad Castle is located on the island in Anlagensee in City Park. In the facade of the castle there was an alcove that seemed to have been made just for the bust of Bela Lugosi. However, [it was] three meters above a common briar. On Saturday evening the 7/19/2003 at 22 clock it received its new location with a lot of effort and without the knowledge of the Budapest population. In mid-February my contact in Budapest told me that you can still admire [the statue] in place.”
Note: The statue is signed: HZ 2003
Letter from the sculptor, Hartmut Zech
“Hello Sander. Thanks for your interest in my statue. It was my fifth attempt to bring a sculpture to a certain place in foreign regions, and due to the articles, by way the most successful!
It started by bringing a sculpture of Jim Morrison to his grave at Paris. To avoid too much interest of the guards we brought the 100 pound head into the cemetery inside a stroller which we had to stabilize by additional irons. Once revealed and on it´s place, they took it away almost immediately.
But the journey itself, and the action surrounding it, was so much fun, that I thought about another sculpture and another tip in the next year.
I choose a character which was way more my style, rather the obvious Morrison iconism part 213. I choose Pan Tau, a TV-character in a Czechoslovak Series I loved back in my childhood. He was a mute guy in a suit who could shrink himself by tipping on his hat. He was played by Otto Simanek. I sculptured him, we went to Prague, and no one was interested. We left him in the window of a nice pub, but he dissapeared soon after we left.
Third was Romy Schneider, because I like her. We brought her to Wien the next year. No interest by anyone.
For 2001 I choose Tintin. This time it was a success, as we brought the sculpture to the Comic-Museum and the accepted the Relief as a gift. I do hope its still there.
And then I did the Bela Lugosi one. I liked the roles he played, the dramatic expression of his acting, and I like his physiognomie. So I sculptured him and on we went to Budapest.
It was quite a journey, but it was a fun weekend and this time we found a real good place for the statue. It looked great there, but I never thought about somebody finding it so intereting to find out who build it. Well it was me, and I’m, proud that it´s still there, being well received and safe.
I never asked for permission in advance. I sculpture as best as I can, go there and see where it could belong. This way it’s more satisfying than getting an assignment or permission to do it. Well,as long as it can stay there!
Thanks again for your interest. You will find photographs of all these events on my homepage: www.meisterzech.de Just click on ZECHREISEN and you’ll find them. Feel free to use them. I hope it will age with the castle and won’t be stolen or destroyed.”
Hartmut Zech July 1, 2016