A South Korean art critic was stunned when he saw the late president of Samsung Electronics’ private art collection after being asked to rate it this year.
“The reason many go to the Louvre is to see the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel, the Creation of Adam. There are valuable masterpieces that can be compared to those in the Lee collection, ”said the critic, who refused to be identified. The head of the Samsung conglomerate, Lee Kun-hee, died in October leaving behind an art collection estimated to be worth over 2 trillion won ($ 1.76 billion), including masterpieces by Picasso, Monet and Warhol, the critic and another person directly involved in the assessment told Reuters.
Former culture ministers and arts groups called for a new law that would allow the family to donate art in lieu of at least part of the 11 trillion won ($ 9.72 billion) inheritance tax bill for only listed holdings that should be landed with. The goal is to keep the collection in South Korea for the exhibition. Putting it up for auction would inevitably mean going overseas, they said.
“If we don’t have a system that allows fees to be paid through works of art, we will lose the collection,” said Lee Kwang-soo, president of the Korean Fine Arts Association. The family’s law firm, Kim & Chang, commissioned three art groups to evaluate the collection, which includes Korean treasures.
According to the two people involved in the evaluation, the collection of approximately 12,000 objects includes works covering the “flow of Western art history” by Renoir, Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Rothko, Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst, with some pieces valued at more of 100 billion won ($ 88 million). The total collection price of approximately 2 trillion won ($ 1.76 billion) or more far exceeds the $ 835.1 million Christie’s Rockefeller collection sold in 2018.
The two people involved in the assessment refused to be identified as the proceedings were private. Kim and Chang declined to comment. AIMING FOR MASTERPIECES
Lee had a particular collection philosophy as he accumulated over about 40 years, wrote Lee Jong-seon, a former deputy director of the museum at the Samsung Group, the Leeum Gallery, who helped Lee build his collection, in his book “Lee Collection “. His father, Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, preferred ancient Korean art and did not buy items he considered too expensive. But Lee Kun-hee “didn’t weigh the price”, rather thinking, “If there are masterpieces, the status of the entire collection will increase.”
“Lee Kun-hee’s philosophy was to aim for masterpieces … I think his collection philosophy also translated into Samsung’s managerial ideology of being number 1,” wrote Lee. The Lee family is expected to report on the inheritance tax account by April.
The family is expected to try to foot the bill in installments over five years in an effort to keep its stakes in Samsung affiliates to maintain control of the conglomerate, most notably global tech giant Samsung Electronics. Some countries allow you to pay taxes with works of art and offer tax breaks for art donations, but not South Korea, said attorney Park Joo-hee, who specializes in arts.
Art experts blame the lack of such tax rules for leaving South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art “without even a single Picasso etching.” The president of the Art Market Research Institute, So Jin-su, said that, based on the budget for artworks purchased from South Korean museums in 2019, the entire museum network would take up to 132 years to purchase the Lee collection. .
The draft law was introduced after Lee’s death, but there has been little progress on it. Although approved, it is unclear whether the family would want to donate the collection in exchange for tax breaks given the sums it could recover, experts say. Choe Byong-suh, a visiting professor at Sungkyunkwan University, said he hoped an agreement could be worked out to keep the collection in South Korea.
“This is a rare chance to create a historical museum,” he said. ($ 1 = 1,132,1500 Won)
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- The head of the Samsung conglomerate, Lee Kun-hee, died in October leaving behind an art collection estimated to be worth over 2 trillion won ($ 1.76 billion), including masterpieces by Picasso, Monet and Warhol, the critic and another person directly involved in the assessment told Reuters. Former culture ministers and arts groups called for a new law that would allow the family to donate art in lieu of at least part of the 11 trillion won ($ 9.72 billion) inheritance tax bill for only listed holdings that should be landed with.
- The South Koreans hope to keep the Samsung boss’s $ 1.8 billion art collection