Auction of Bruce Lee Items Exceeds Expectations


HONG KONG -- The largest auction to date of Bruce Lee memorabilia in the birthplace of the kung fu legend shot past estimates to rake in $220,000, with a fur-lined costume jacket made for an unfinished film claiming the highest price.

Thirteen items belonging to Lee, who is credited with bringing martial arts into the mainstream and has long been one of Hong Kong's proudest exports, went under the hammer on Saturday and were promptly snatched up by avid fans.

Fetching the highest price of nearly $600,000 HKD ($76,850) was the fur-lined coat, which was made for the film Game of Death and worn by Lee just before his death in 1973 due to a reaction to medication.

The winning bidder, Greg Manning from New Jersey in the United States, said that buying the coat was simply a way to show his respect to the late film legend.

"I think Bruce Lee is, worldwide, recognised as one of the most important people in the martial arts field," Manning said.v "He really pioneered the film genre and we respect him as a human being and a person for his work, and his art, and for what he did."

A handwritten, three-page 1966 letter to Taky Kimura, a Seattle friend and fellow kung fu instructor who was best man at Lee's 1964 wedding, sold for over $400,000 HKD ($51,233).

Organizers had expected that all 13 lots -- from the same U.S. collector -- would fetch around $113,000.

Other items that went under the hammer included signed student membership cards to Lee's kung fu schools, and a martial arts book inscribed by the actor.

"He also try his best to search for excellence -- that means, to challenge the unlimited," said businessman and martial arts expert Albert Wong, who bought several smaller items.

"This is a very good spirit -- not just in martial arts, but in the business world, in all walks of life. It's very important. In fact, it's guided my last half-century."

The last known auction of Lee items was in Los Angeles in 1993 when his widow, Linda Lee, auctioned off 200 items.

The star of martial arts classics such as Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon was raised in Hong Kong before moving to the United States in 1959 to teach kung fu.

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