During his lifetime, Lee Kun-hee, the former president of Samsung Electronics who died in 2020, collected more than 20,000 works of art. The collection would be worth billions of dollars. In the months following the collector’s death, many speculated on what would become of his holdings. Her heirs began to consider selling the cache to avoid a huge inheritance bill, causing many to fear that she would leave South Korea.
To prevent many of these masterpieces from going on sale, the South Korean government negotiated with the family, leading to the donation of 23,000 works of art to museums across the country.
In his collection, Lee has mainly focused on Korean art, from traditional work to modern artistic experiments. (Some 20,000 works of traditional Korean art will travel to the National Museum of Korea in Seoul as part of the deal.) Collection.
About 1,200 works were donated to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), which has already hosted an exhibition of the donation, “Lee Kun-hee Collection: Masterpieces of Korean Art”. The exhibition runs until March 13, 2022 at the museum branch in Seoul; other exhibitions are planned in the coming months.
Below is a look at works from Lee’s collection that are now part of the MMCA’s collection.