Wherever he now lies, Juraj Jánošík must be turning in his grave. A museum dedicated to the Slovak folk hero famed for stealing from the rich and giving to the common people is up for sale - and it is likely to command a pretty price from some innovative entrepreneur.
Up for sale is the 400-year-old manor house in the central Slovak town of Liptovský Mikuláš where, legend has it, in March 1713, 25-year-old Jánošík was imprisoned for his last few days between being sentenced for thievery and being hung by his ribcage.
A museum featuring Jánošík's dungeon was there from 1981 until this year, but its fate became less certain once the building was returned through restitution to three private owners in 1991. One of those owners is Jozef Lacko, whose grandparents won the building in a game of cards early this century. The state took control of the building around 1950, reconstructed it in the 1970s, and opened the museum, which has been administered by the town.
When the town of Liptovský Mikuláš's 200,000 Sk annual lease on the building expired at the end of last year, townhall did not renew. Seeking to keep the museum there, the town's aldermen offered 4 to 5 million Sk to buy the 771-square-meter manor house and its 6,071-square-meter plot of land, according to museum director Jarmila Medzihradská.
But the owners, represented by the Bratislava-based real estate agency Bytoč, are asking for 15 million Sk for the cultural monument, Medzihradská said.
Now Lacko, Mária Rengevičová, and her sister are seeking a buyer who could use the building, which sits a kilometer from the town center, for any of a variety of purposes, including a hotel or restaurant. Any new owner will have to invest 20 million Sk in renovations, according to Medzihradská, who said the museum spent 150,000 Sk on small repairs last year.
Whatever becomes of the building, the town does not seem to be distraught over the potential loss. "The city has not lost the building," Medzihradská said. "No one is going to remove it from here." Then she added, "I think if Jánošík hadn't stayed here - and we are not 100 percent sure that he did - no one would even look at it."
Special reporting by Andrea Lörinczová
10. Apr 1997 at 0:00 | Rick Zedník