The finance ministry of South Korea recently announced it had approved the feasibility review to build a new art museum to display the artworks collected by Lee Kun-hee, the late Samsung chairman who died in 2020.
The museum received regulatory approval on July and is expected to open in central Seoul in 2028.
After Lee’s death, his family donated 23,000 items from Korean and Western artists—including Kim Whanki, Claude Monet, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon, and Salvador Dali—to seven South Korean museums. As previously reported by ARTnews correspondent Andrew Russeth, Lee’s heirs were facing an $11 billion estate tax bill, the highest in the country’s history, and the gift allowed them to avoid those taxes.
Lee was also a controversial figure. In addition to being the richest person in the country, he was convicted twice on tax and corruption-related charges and pardoned twice by past presidents.
In 2021, South Korea announced it had decided to build a new museum in Seoul’s Jongno Ward. The location was chosen due to its proximity to other museums and art galleries, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, where 1,200 works from Lee’s collection were donated.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also said the proximity of the 9,787-square-meter plot in Songhyeon-dong would allow for easier collaboration with art experts and professionals. The museum is expected to vitalize cultural tourism in central Seoul, and currently carries a budget of 118.6 billion won (US$93.5 million).
News of the feasibility review’s approval was first reported by the Yohap News Agency.