Likes on your profile are a sum of the likes on your published projects. For example, if you have 10 projects with 10 likes each, your profile will display having 100 likes.
If you remove projects or unpublish them, it decreases the number of likes displayed on your profile as these numbers are calculated.
Unfortunately, we cannot allow it to be persistent because it opens the system to abuse. There are artists who will publish artwork just to get the views and likes, remove the artwork and keep publishing the same artwork over and over again to increase their likes count.