Lee home features in $10b charity court win

Top News | Phoebe Ng 9 Mar 2018

The High Court has validated the will of late billionaire Yu Pengnian, who owned the Kowloon Tong house where martial arts icon Bruce Lee once resided, meaning his fortune estimated at HK$10 billion will be donated to charity.

Judge David Lok said the probate action reflected the "goodness in humanity" as none of his heirs now contested the will.

But it remained unclear if Lee's one-time home in Cumberland Road home will become a museum dedicated to the star, who died there suddenly from a cerebal edema on July 20, 1983, at the age of 32.

The decision rests with Yu's grandson and the sole trustee Pang Chi-ping.

The mainland-born philanthropist, who died at the age of 93 in 2015, wanted to donate the house to the government to make into a Bruce Li museum, but talks to that end broke down.

Yu then made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the property.

The judge said probate actions are unlike other cases and often "unveil the ugliness of humanity."

He went on: "I often see relatives and families squabble over wealth. Siblings no longer talk to each other. Although I cannot really describe a person's death as something joyous I am happy to deal with a case like this."

Yu made it known in 2010 he wanted to donate all of wealth to charity and made a will to that effect on July 21, 2011, with his grandson Pang as sole executor.

Except for valuables kept in two safe boxes for his other grandsons, Yu stated in his will everything would go to the Yu Pengnian Charity Foundation.

After Yu's death, Pang Chi-pang, sole trustee of the Yu Panglin Charitable Trust, asked the High Court to declare the will made in 2011 to be the tycoon's final one and to override two caveats raised by his son Pang Ah-fan and grandson Pang San-hon.

But those two family members later declared they would not challenge the will.

The secretary for justice was also listed as a defendant as the case involved a charity.

The judge yesterday formally validated the document and ordered its execution in full.

Lok also said there was no doubt about the document as he believed Yu had the mental capacity to make the will and fully understood its contents.

He also ordered HK$1.85 million will be deducted from Yu's wealth for legal fees.

"It is essential spending and the amount was fairly reasonable," the judge said.

Yu, born in Hunan province, arrived in Hong Kong in the 1950s and eventually became a hotelier and real estate tycoon.

He was also known for making frequent and generous donations to good causes.

Bruce Lee's home in Kowloon Tong, or "Nine Dragon's Pond," was bought by Yu Panglin in 1974. It then became a "love hotel," whereby rooms were rented by the hour to amorous couples who want to keep their trysts discreet.

Years before Yu's death in May 2015 he tried to work with the government and to donate hand over the house to become a Bruce Lee museum.

After that plan fell through in 2011 Yu tried to sell the property but in vain.

The Hong Kong Heritage Museum subsequently unveiled a Bruce Lee exhibition.

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