The owner of Madliena Manor Edgars Kukuts is now looking for a new owner on Facebook, with the remark "I give it away for free" in Latvian, English, and Russian. Until now, the advertisement, which has appeared regularly on various real estate portals, showed a symbolic price of €1. The property has been on sale for at least eight years. Madliena parish governor Guntis Graudiņš-Pētersons has met with several potential buyers, who have come to him for advice:
"Speaking to these potential buyers, I have found that it is not really one euro. A much larger amount is being demanded. It is mentioned that he requests to transfer much higher amounts to his personal account, from a thousand to up to 400,000 euro for allegedly invested jobs and purchased materials, but points to the fact that it could be EUR 1,000 in the contract. One might say it's a dirty business. I believe this advertisement is misleading and he simply does not want to either sell it or restore it."
The President of the Latvian Palaces and Manors Association, Jānis Lazdāns, believes that the owner of Madliena Manor lacks the knowledge of how such properties should be sold: "I remember, 7-8 years ago, I was there for the first and only time. We refused to market the manor because the owner had… There's nothing from the historical, just the outer shape. Inside, there is an unfinished euro repair. The whole old historical substance is completely destroyed, it's like a new house. He is not a professional, he tries to do what he does. He has no contact or knowledge, he's trying to trade on Facebook. We see it, but it's like fixing our own teeth. "
Latvian Radio could not reach the owner by phone numbers listed in the ad.
The cultural heritage authorities say that the entrepreneur had the intention of creating a guesthouse at Madliena Manor. Then everything was abandoned, and now the damage is great.
Mārīte Putniņa, inspector of the National Cultural Heritage Board, says that the manor was last surveyed at the beginning of the year: “We were not inside then, because the indoors was simply unavailable and no one was available to let us in. There are broken windows, the roof is collapsed and broken, it is obvious, and we also found it and turned to the owner who explained to us why it was in that position."
No administrative penalties have yet been imposed on the owner of the manor.
“The situation in which the manor is at this point cannot be significantly altered immediately, given the fact that sanctions have been imposed on its owner and investors, and basically we have no mechanisms to force the owner to act in this situation.”
Latvian Radio failed to obtain confirmation why and what sanctions are imposed on the owner. According to the information available in the Land Registry, Edgars Kukuts purchased the Madliena Manor in the summer of 2007. The personal data reported shows that Kukuts is a Latvian citizen.
Despite the mysterious owner's unsuccessful attempts to sell the manor, the connoisseurs see the potential at Madliena Manor. Cultural Monuments researcher Vitolds Mašnovskishas been there many times: “First of all, it's interesting. Secondly, there is no manor of any kind on each step during a certain period, and of course it is worth saving. To save, there must be an owner. A master who also wants to protect it." Jānis Lazdāns, president of the Latvian Palaces and Manors Association, said that the manor is in a beautiful place and close to Rīga:
“Anyone with ideas, energy, and money could make this estate a hotel. What we miss in Latvia is holiday apartments, such as in Germany. People who don't have a home in the country go away and stay in that house for some time."
Vitolds Mašnovskis estimates that only 4% of the 2000 manors and castles in Latvia are maintained in good condition. According to the National Heritage Board, this figure is about 5% higher or “over 100 tidied and renovated objects”.
The Manor researcher believes that without a state-targeted policy, nothing will change significantly in the near future.
In 2017, a program for the financing of the sacred heritage was launched. It has allowed more than 50 Latvian churches to solve the most critical problems in order to save buildings from collapse. There is no such program for rescuing palaces and manors. Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture for cultural policy Uldis Zariņš said that nobody had requested that from the Ministry, and since most are private-owned, there has been no pressing need for such a program.
The National Heritage Board has allocated funds 143 times over the past five years for manor building-related projects from the exploration and rescue program for cultural monuments.
In the letter to Latvian Radio the Board acknowledges: “If the preservation of cultural monuments could be accompanied by new substantial funding, the issue of setting up a separate financing program for manor and palaces could, of course, be considered.”
However, the landlords of palaces and manors are reserved about the idea.
"We won't be able to save all manor with public funding, so I think there could be some concentrated and more municipality-focused support. If there are any priorities in the local government that they can direct through the development of these manors, then they can do it. I don't see it being such a national model for the renovation of all manors," said Maija Dzirkale, head of the development association of Vērenes Manor.
The President of the Latvian Palaces and Manors Association, Jānis Lazāns, is convinced that there are many places where a manor would be maintained with entry fees or taxes. can use these taxes.
In the case of Madliena Manor, there is no solution yet.
Mārīte Putniņa, inspector of the National Cultural Heritage Board, said that “the future fate of the manor is unclear and is a matter of great work”.
For the time being, Madliena Manor is still a cultural monument of local importance. The removal of a manor from that list may be decided when its authenticity has fallen below 50%. Since 1998, two buildings of the manor as a whole and 76 separate buildings forming the building of the manor or or parts thereof have been excluded from the list of State protected cultural monuments.