The billionaire owner of kung fu legend Bruce Lee’s last home warned Monday he would scuttle plans for a museum at the site if Hong Kong’s government did not allow him to build a tribute cinema, library and fan shops.
Chinese property developer Yu Panglin said in an interview Monday he would only go ahead with the highly-anticipated museum plan if he was able to open a tribute cinema, retail shops and a library on the same site.
“I want it to become a museum if that is what the public wants,” the billionaire said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
“But I will only donate the property on the condition that the government agrees to allow me to add a new complex to house a cinema, a library and a retail area to show belongings, materials and movies about Bruce Lee.”
“If it is just an old house it will not attract visitors. It needs additional facilities as I plan to show the full story of Bruce Lee,” he added.
“If the government chooses not to support the plan, I don’t think it will be worth donating the property. It will be better to redevelop the property into a luxury house to be sold for charitable purposes.”
Yu originally planned to sell the home in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, affectionately called the Crane’s Nest by Lee, and to give the money to Sichuan earthquake victims.
However, after an outcry from fans, he eventually agreed to donate it to the city to be turned into a permanent memorial to the city’s most famous actor who died aged 32 at the peak of his stardom.
There was no immediate response to Yu’s appeal from the Hong Kong government which has been accused in the past by Bruce Lee fans of being embarrassed by the fame of the city’s best-known international film star.
Lee – star of films such as Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon – lived with his wife Linda Lee-Cadwell in the house in the years before his death.
Conservative officials in the former British colony have been consistently reluctant to commemorate the city’s most famous star, apparently wary of his hell-raising reputation.
Since Yu announced he was giving the house for a museum, however, the Hong Kong government’s Tourism Commission has been studying overseas examples for museums such as the Beatles Story in Liverpool and Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in the US.