Bruce Lee museum bid dealt crushing blow

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
 

A plan to turn Bruce Lee's former home into a museum honouring the kung fu star has been abandoned after negotiations with the building's billionaire owner broke down.

The idea was quietly dropped even after the government staged an international competition to redesign the house at 41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, where the star spent the last year of his life.

Philanthropist Yu Panglin, who owns the property - which operates as a short-time love hotel - offered to donate the house worth more than HK$100 million to the city in 2008, but failed to reach agreement on the scope of the development.

His condition for the donation was that the property should be expanded to include a cinema, library and a martial arts training centre.

But the government said this was not possible in a low-rise residential area. A spokeswoman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said: 'Over the past two years, the government has tried its best to restore Bruce Lee's former residence in Kowloon Tong for visitation by locals and visitors.

'But, despite our efforts, we are unable to reach a consensus with the property owner over the scope of the restoration.'

Instead, said the spokeswoman, an exhibition would be staged at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin 'to showcase Mr Lee's life and his contributions to the development of film and kung fu culture'. The exhibition is expected to open late next year, in time for the 40th anniversary of Lee's death the following July.

Steve Kerridge, the British author of the Bruce Lee Chronicles, said the lack of a museum was crazy. He asked: 'If Hollywood can honour the man with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, why can't Hong Kong honour him with a substantial museum of some kind?

'People in Hong Kong need to wake up and realise the impact Lee had on the world of action cinema and the martial arts genre in general.' Philip Kenny, a Bruce Lee enthusiast who tracked down long-lost locations of Lee's fight scenes, said he heard the Cumberland Road house had already been sold to new owners.

'It looks like the landlord might have regretted his decision to donate it and decided to play hardball. He imposed very restrictive criteria he knew couldn't be fulfilled,' he said.

Hayley Chan, 23, a member of the Bruce Lee Club who works in a shop in Nathan Road dedicated to the star, said the club hoped to work with the government to put plaques on buildings around Hong Kong associated with Lee, including his former schools and 41 Cumberland Road.

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