Police Raid Artist’s Private Museum, Confiscate Archaeological Artifacts in Bulgaria’s Melyane
A private museum containing historical and archaeological artifacts set up by a famous artist and wood carver has been raided by the police in the northwestern Bulgarian town of Melyane, Georgi Damyanovo Municipality, Montana District.
The police have also raided the home of 49-year-old Chavdar Antov, whose works have been presented in art galleries in Bulgaria and abroad.
The press service of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry says that the police have confiscated from Antov “five rifles, two carabines with wooden butts – one of which bears an inscription reading “Budapest 1914”, three revolvers, two guns, seven barrels, three chargers.”
Even though the items in question appear to be historical artifacts, they have been seized because Antov “did not present the respective necessary permits or certificates”.
The police have also seized from him a wide range of archaeological artifacts and antiques: three ceramic lamps, 692 ancient coins, four ancient axes, 3 metal figures, 33 arrow and spear tips, 2 marble slabs with human and animal reliefs, 30 metal fibulas, rings, earrings, and crosses.
The police have concluded that the artist does not possess the necessary permits and other documents for the respective archaeological and historical artifacts.
The locals in the town of Melyane, however, have been stunned by the police raid of what has become a local cultural center, i.e. Anton’s private museum, reports the Trud daily.
The private museum in question was in fact an abandoned school that the artist acquired and renovated, turning it into a museum with a gallery.
“We are shocked. Chavdar Antov has been working on this museum with his own money for years. He put Melyane on the map. The museum is visited by local and foreign tourists alike. They bring children here to teach them history and love for their country. We have even developed a project for cultural tourism. We hope that this mistake will be rectified,” Melyane Mayor Botyo Petkov has stated.
Antov himself says he has made sure that his artifacts were legally registered but that some legal or bureaucratic loopholes might the cause of his trouble.
“I am no criminal. This museum is the work of my life. I probably have some omissions in the sea of the [Bulgarian] bureaucracy, and I have sought legal aid in order to retrieve the artifacts,” artist Chavdar Antov is quoted as saying.