Trawl through the #Columbo hashtag on Instagram and it won’t be long before you spy a multitude of tourists cuddling up to a familiar-looking bronze figure, striking a classic pose, raincoat as rumpled as ever, cigar safely in hand.
The statue is quite clearly Lieutenant Columbo. Dog’s there, too. But the location? Budapest, Hungary – not exactly a known hot-spot of Columbo afficionados. Little wonder, perhaps, that the good Lieutenant’s likeness is looking as confused as he’s ever done.
“If a statue of Columbo and Dog isn’t reason enough to put a trip to Budapest on your bucket list, then nothing is.”
So why is there a Columbo statue in Budapest, but not one in LA, or New York, or another part of the world with a larger fan-base and more obvious ties to the show?
Well, there is a genuine reason for it, although it’s a pretty tenuous one. According to a Hungarian urban legend (i.e. chance of it being true is about as likely as Robert Culp not exploding with rage in an episode of Columbo), Peter Falk is a distant relative of Miksa Falk, the well-known Hungarian politician, journalist and author, who lived from 1828-1908.
Although Peter Falk has some eastern European heritage, no one seems to know for sure whether there’s a genuine link between the two. Even when the statue was officially unveiled in May 2014, the Mayor of Budapest admitted there was no real evidence that Miksa and Peter had familial ties. But since when did real evidence ever get in the way of Columbo? Since never, that’s when! And that seems as good a reason as any why the Columbo statue got the thumbs up.
“With the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Prescription: Murder set for 2018, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Columbo statue unveiled in LA?”
Sculpted by Géza Feket, and said to have cost upwards of $60,000, the statue is located on Falk Miksa Street, on the eastern side of the Danube. It’s handily marked on Google Maps, so if you are a Columbo fan and you do happen to be paying a visit to what is said to be Central Europe’s most liveable city, there’s no excuse to not swing by for the obligatory photo op.
After all, if a statue of Columbo and Dog isn’t reason enough to put a trip to Budapest on your bucket list, then surely nothing is…
Where Hungary leads, others should follow. With the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Prescription: Murder set for 2018, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Columbo statue unveiled in Los Angeles to commemorate a momentous televisual milestone?
PS – I’m also active on Instagram, so if you are too, pay me a visit! I haven’t yet been able to post a snap with me at the Columbo statue, though…