The Kinks, Bauhaus, and Andy Warhol have all paid homage to Béla Lugosi. And now his likeness adorns a Hungarian castle.
In 2003, German artist Hartmut Zech made a bust of Béla Lugosi. In July that year, when he and some friends took a trip to Budapest, he brought it along in hopes of finding a home for the sculpture. In City Park, he noticed an empty alcove on a corner of the Vajdahunyad Castle, and late that night, with help from his friends, installed the statue on a ledge about 10 feet up the facade.
Vajdahunyad Castle is an architectural collage built to pay homage to several landmark buildings in Hungary’s 1,000-year history. It was built in 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition to celebrate the anniversary of the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895.
The Hungarian-American actor Béla Lugosi was born in Lugoj, Romania. He’s known for portraying the eponymous character in Dracula on Broadway in 1927 and in the 1931 film adaptation (both loosely based on Bram Stoker’s novel) as well as his later work in Ed Wood’s films, including the cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The Lugosi bust was the fifth sculpture that Zech “gifted” to a foreign country. The first was a Jim Morrison bust he hid in a stroller and pushed into the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, where the singer is buried. That one came down within days. Other statues went up in different places, with varying degrees of permission and success. But the bust of Béla Lugosi remains—an additional bit of Hungarian history for the castle’s visitors to celebrate.