The Cultural and Historical Heritage of Ancient Thrace preserved by Vassil Bozhkov
There are various reasons for people to start collecting antiques or other forms of art but to one particular person this equals preserving the cultural heritage of a country. And that person is Vasil Bozhkov. The name is well-known in Bulgaria and is also quite popular abroad. Yet, for many people he remains quite controversial.
Despite the fact that Vasil Bozhkov is a famous public figure, he rarely speaks in public or to the press. He supports the Bulgarian sport and also appreciates art. He manages several businesses but also established the biggest non-profit organization, Thrace Foundation, back in 2004 with the ultimate goal to preserve the cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria. And most importantly, he owns one of the most exclusive private collections of artefacts but often organizes different exhibitions, allowing everyone to travel back in time and explore ancient civilizations, their customs, myths and beliefs, way of living, craftsmanship and politics.
Over the years, Vassil Bozhkov has been searching for lost ancient treasures and archaeological finds, only to bring them back to where they belong – Bulgaria. He has managed to collect over 3000 artefacts, including sculptures made of metal or stone, plenty of harness or decorative parts, ancient weapons, belt appliques, silver, bronze or gold vessels, vases, silver and golden horns, spectacular rhytons, household utensils used by some of the most interesting ancient civilizations such as the Thracians, various cult objects and others. Some of the ancient objects are plain, whereas others have rich decorations, ornamentation or mythological scenes which are skilfully incised on them. Others impress with the finest illustrations of different figural representations in the form of Greek heroes, Gods, mythological or cult creatures.
The selection is dated from the 8th century BC to the 6th century AD with works deriving from different epochs, lands, and workshops. For instance, among the relics that Vasil Bozhkov has collected are vessels dated to the pre-Achaemenid period with exemplars deriving from the Middle and Near East or Anatolia. Others are examples of the Lydian toreutic school and go back to the Achaemenid epoch. But this is not all. There are artefacts that go back to the Archaic period, representing some of the most important centres, including Laconia, Corinth and Ionia. Part of his collection is described in a luxury catalogue titled Metal Vases and Utensils in the Vasil Bozhkov Collection and written by Dr. Athanasios Sideris.
What is really interesting though, is the fact that Vassil Bozhkov always reaches out to others in one way or another. He is not simply a successful businessman who often stays on top of the charts for being the richest man in Bulgaria and among the richest ones in the world. He has proved to be a philanthropist and a genuine patron of the Bulgarian cultural and historical legacy. Through his non-profit organization, Thrace Foundation, he has managed to organize various exhibitions in different towns across Bulgaria as well as other parts of the world. Some of the exhibitions include „Thrace and the Ancient World 15th – Vasil Bozhkov Collection” at the National Museum of History in 2011, Sofia; “The Saved treasures of Ancient Thrace from Vasil Bozhkov Collection” organized along with The State Museum of Oriental Art back in 2009 in Moscow; “The golden fleece. The Quest of the Argonauts” in 2018, Sofia, and many others.
The Golden Fleece. The quest of the Argonauts – Opening Night
Perhaps one of the least known details about Vasil Bozhkov is that not too long ago he turned down an offer of $300 000 000 by an Arabian sheikh for his collection. Not selling the relics for a price this big proves that Bojkov respects and appreciates the past of the Bulgarians and wants to preserve as many of these treasures as possible.