If you happen to stroll through Budapests V District and pass by the Falk Miksa Utca, you might end up doing a double take when you spot a bronze statue of Columbo aka Peter Falk. Two questions immediately spring to mind:
1) What connection does Columbo have with Budapest (or even Hungary)?
2) Why the Hell did they cast a bronze statue of him?
Not that you really need a reason to cast a statue of Peter Falk, but it does seem rather odd.
So lets rewind a bit and dissect this bizarre constellation.
What connection does Columbo have with Budapest? To put it bluntly, zero. And what about Peter Falk?
Well heres where the whole story kicks off. Peter Falk was born in New York City, while his father came from Poland and his mother form Russia – it was rumoured that his Grandmother (on the maternal side) hailed form Hungary. This has never been fully confirmed nor denied – but its a fairly thin connection at best. (Wikipedia – which is not the most accurate of sources – has conflicting information regarding his heritage depending which language you read it in).
So the Columbo statue in Budapest is located in the Falk Miksa Utca (in Hungary the last name comes first). Are they related?
Miksa Falk lived in the early 19th Century and was a well known Hungarian Politician and Journalist. Aside the fact that both Peter Falk and Miksa Falk share the same last name, both of them were Jewish. Antal Rogán, the district mayor at the time said that Peter Falk “may be” related to the famous politician, “but this had yet to be proven”. Despite the extremely thin connection, Rogán decided to erect the statue as part of a rejuvenation project. My gut feeling tells me here that the location of the statue was picked primarily due to the fact that it was convenient that the names matched.
This still doesnt really explain why they cast a bronze statue of Columbo in the middle of Budapest.
Peter Falk sadly passed away in 2011, and the statue was cast in 2014 – just a tad late to be considered a timely memorial. Some people might say that it was just a timely coincidence that the local elections where just around the corner, and someone who likes Columbo cant be all that bad right? Who knows. It didnt help Antal Rogán, probably because people weren’t too happy that he had wasted HUF 14 million (€46,000) of taxpayer money for this so called “rejuvenation project”.
So either way – thanks to what seems like a Politicians love for Columbo, everyone visiting Budapest can now enjoy the Staue of the iconic TV Detective.
The Columbo Statue in Budapest