There’s a fight brewing over who owns the rights to the former home of legendary martial arts master Bruce Lee.
The biggest obstacle it faces is its location, in Kowloon Tong. Martial arts fans know the name instantly as the place where Lee died on July 20, 1973.
Developers only know it as one of modern Hong Kong’s most exclusive areas; a low density, quiet district popular with the upper class due to its freestanding homes and prestigious schools.
Lee was at an apartment owned by actress Betty Ting Pei – also in Kowloon Tong – when Ting gave him a painkiller for a headache. Lee, 32, was believed to have been allergic to the drug and never woke up.
Lee moved to Hong Kong and bought the property at 41 Cumberland Road following the international success of “The Big Boss”.
Ever since his death, it’s been owned by Chinese philanthropist Yu Panglin, and for most of that time, rented out as a “love hotel”. It’s even listed on Google Maps as “Romantic Villa”.
But Yu died in May, and Lee’s former 529 square metre home is now valued at HK$100 million ($18 million).
Here’s a documentary tour of his house, which shows his kids playing downstairs and the gym Lee built for himself on the top level:
The main concern for Lee’s fans is a statement this week by Yu’s grandson Peng Zhibin, who told the South China Morning Post:
“We are still finalising the legal procedures [for the estate].
“This can take six months to one year. We do not have any final decisions yet.”
The SCMP reports fans have now called on the government to take action to protect the site, and have the support of Lee’s daughter Shannon.
She points to the success of the Bruce Lee exhibition currently running at the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, which has two years to run but is now being considered for a more permanent place due to its popularity.
“Fans all over the world hope Lee’s former residence can be preserved and made a gallery to commemorate our beloved star,” Wong Yiu-keung, chairman of fan organisation the Bruce Lee Club, told the SCMP.
“But there’s very little we can do.”
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