Hong Kong shelves plans for Bruce Lee museum

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The Independent Travel

Hong Kong has shelved plans to turn Bruce Lee's old home, which later became a rundown love hotel, into a museum dedicated to the martial arts legend, the government said Sunday.

Fans of the icon, who died in 1973 at the age of 32, have long called for a museum in Lee's hometown and the idea appeared set to become reality after the wealthy owner of Lee's former home entered into talks with city officials two years ago to hash out a museum blueprint.

Long after Lee's death, the property turned into a love hotel that was rented for as little as $25 an hour to amorous couples.

"Despite our efforts, we are unable to reach a consensus with the property owner over the scope of the restoration," Hong Kong's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said in a statement.

Officials did not elaborate, but billionaire philanthropist Yu Panglin had insisted that the property would only be donated for a museum if it was expanded to include a cinema, library and martial arts training centre, the South China Morning Post reported.

Because the city's tourism commission had gathered "over a hundred artifacts" related to Lee, officials said they would instead organise an exhibition "to showcase Mr Lee's life and his contributions to the development of film and kung fu culture."

The exhibit was slated to open in late 2012, the statement said.

Last year, Hong Kong held an international competition for ideas on how to redesign the house in the bustling city's Kowloon district.

Lee - credited with catapulting the martial arts film genre into the mainstream with films including Fists of Fury and the posthumously released Enter the Dragon - died after a severe reaction to medication.

His widow, now living in the US, had provided a rough copy of the home's original layout to help restoration efforts.

"My mom is definitely behind it," Lee's daughter Shannon told AFP last year.

"I'm really in favour of (the museum). It could be great for Hong Kong and great for my father and his legacy."

Shannon Lee could not be immediately reached Sunday.

A statue of Lee sits on Hong Kong's Avenue of Stars, but fans have criticised the lack of a more significant memorial to their hero.