June 20, 2021


Specialists in home design

Samsung Family Art Trove Needs a Home, and Towns Are Vying to Adopt

SEOUL—The spouse and children at the rear of the Samsung empire, aiming to reduce its...

SEOUL—The spouse and children at the rear of the


empire, aiming to reduce its approximately $11 billion inheritance-tax invoice, is donating 23,000 Monets, Picassos, Dalis and other artwork that Chairman

Lee Kun-hee

amassed more than 4 many years before he died final year.

South Korean cities are battling to get into the picture.

Lee Kun-hee

“He was born here,” explained Mayor Kwon Younger-jin of Daegu this month upon launching a committee to land the collection for a Lee Kun-hee museum. “If Lee Kun-hee’s artwork selection is exhibited in one put, it has to be Daegu,” he reported.

“This is his hometown,” claimed the mayor of Busan in a


post early this thirty day period pitching the southern port town as the very best put for a museum to residence the art.

Equally mayors have some record on their side. Mr. Lee, who died in October at age 78, was born and lifted in Daegu. He attended elementary university in Busan although his family members sought refuge during the Korean War.

At minimum nine other towns, towns and counties have raised their palms to host the collection.

The artwork is world-class, say regional appraisers, who worth it at about $2.2 billion.

‘La Lecture,’ a Renoir from Mr. Lee’s assortment.


The Countrywide Museum of Fashionable and Up to date Art, Korea

Mr. Lee collected extensively, from up to date masterpieces by Western painters to Korean antiques, a collection that had been preserved privately until eventually now. The donation involved some of his most important will work, this sort of as a portray from Monet’s “Water Lilies” collection. 

“No a single but Samsung had the prosperity to amass these kinds of a collection,” suggests Shim Jung-taik, an artwork columnist and former Samsung worker who has composed guides about the conglomerate. “Lee Kun-hee is currently perceived as a mysterious entrepreneur, and the private assortment of artwork presents him a far more mystifying picture.”

Mr. Lee’s father founded Samsung in 1938, increasing it from a modest fish-export organization to consist of textiles and items these types of as microwaves. Mr. Lee grew to become chairman in 1987 following his father’s demise, reworking Samsung into a conglomerate known globally for its smartphones, televisions and memory chips.

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The artwork that Mr. Lee’s loved ones bequeathed to the South Korean federal government from his non-public selection lightens the taxable portions of a broad fortune—it exceeds $20 billion, according to Forbes’s calculations in October. The donation was element of the tax-payment strategy laid out by Samsung.

Samsung declined to comment on towns calling for the design of a Lee Kun-hee museum. In a statement asserting the donations, Samsung claimed the family was donating the selection in recognition of Mr. Lee’s “belief in the worth of passing on our cultural heritage to new generations” and the spouse and children believed it their “civic responsibility and accountability to pay out all taxes.”

‘The non-public assortment of artwork gives him a a lot more mystifying impression,’ an art columnist claims of Mr. Lee, here in 2008.


Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Pictures

Samsung has left it to the federal government to manage the artwork. South Korean President

Moon Jae-in

requested that it be featured in a distinctive exhibit hall, states an official from the presidential Blue Home. “Nothing has been made a decision on developing a museum for the donated artwork,” a lifestyle ministry official claims.

Contenders trumpeting ties to the Lee relatives and Samsung include Suwon metropolis, whose officers boast it is the headquarters of Samsung Electronics Co.—the conglomerate’s crown jewel, with 40,000 staff members. A Suwon lawmaker factors to a further connection: It is home to the Lee household cemetery, wherever Mr. Lee is buried.

Lightly populated Uiryeong county emphasizes in statements angling for the artwork that it has “deep-rooted ties” to the Lee relatives, being the Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull’s birthplace.

The port city of Yeosu’s relationship with Mr. Lee is that he acquired a heart-shaped island within the town restrictions a decade and a half back. Even with hopes he would establish it into a vacationer attraction, there have been no symptoms of design.

Mr. Lee acquired this coronary heart-shaped island in Yeosu, a city now vying for his donated art.


Yeosu Metropolis Hall

The metropolis is pitching an vacant exhibit hall by the ocean as an great location for the collection. “Yeosu can provide a museum floating on water,” states Chong Hee-son, who heads Yeosu’s museum-launching committee for Mr. Lee’s artwork. “It will turn out to be as well-known as the Guggenheim.” 

The central government has not claimed no matter whether there really should be a devoted Lee Kun-hee facility or if an existing museum ought to showcase the assortment.

Local governments say the artwork shouldn’t be concentrated in the cash, by now home to the greater part of South Korea’s artwork museums. The National Museum of Modern-day and Contemporary Art in Seoul has received extra than 1,400 parts from the Samsung loved ones as component of the donations. It has scheduled exhibitions in August.

“The environment currently loves Seoul,” Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon claimed at a news convention. “Busan is only 2½ hrs absent, and we can tie the two metropolitan areas together to improve the country’s cultural electricity.”

A metropolis spokeswoman says the mayor would like the authorities to give particular recommendations for making a new museum.

A National Museum of Present day and Present-day Artwork constructing in Seoul.


JUNG YEON-JE/Agence France-Presse/Getty Photographs

Yongin, a city just outside Seoul, is home to Ho-Am Museum, which Samsung crafted in 1982. It hopes to secure the new items to make the city a one-end store for fans of Samsung’s artwork.

“Ho-Am, a museum developed by Samsung, and Everland, a concept park run by Samsung, are both situated in Yongin,” a town formal states, “and it’s the mayor’s intention to contain the Lee Kun-hee museum as element of the vacationer attraction.”

Incheon does not have a crystal clear tie to Samsung or the Lee relatives, but a lawmaker from the port metropolis, Bae June-younger, thinks it has a advertising stage: It “possesses the world’s fifth major airport,” he wrote on Fb, pitching the town for the selection.

“Samsung’s picture of a worldwide company,” Mr. Bae states of his article, “goes with South Korea’s satisfaction, located in our town, the Incheon Global Airport.”

Generate to Dasl Yoon at [email protected]

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