Remainder of Chun’s seized art trove to be auctioned next week

By Lee Woo-young
  • Published : Mar 3, 2014 - 20:03
  • Updated : Mar 3, 2014 - 20:03
With about 90 percent of former President Chun Doo-hwan’s confiscated art collection sold, the remaining 97 artworks will come under the hammer at K Auction on March 12.

K Auction is the second biggest art auction house in Korea and was commissioned by the government to sell the former leader’s seized artworks to collect his unpaid fines. 
Untitled by Kim Hong-joo. (K Auction)

Some 600 artworks owned by Chun were confiscated by prosecutors last year as he had long refused to pay a fine imposed in 1997 for a number of crimes including rebellion.

Highlight items on the block include Kim Hong-joo’s detailed flower paintings. His acrylic paintings made in 2000 are expected to fetch between 30 million won ($28,000) and 100 million won.

His other paintings include portraits of faces reflected in mirrors or window glass.

Also up for bid are sculptures of the human figure by modern and contemporary artists. A male body sculpted by Kim Young-won is expected to be sold for 6 million won to 15 million won. Kim created the King Sejong statue in the Gwanghwamun Plaza.

Other sculptures include a disfigured bronze torso by Kim Suk, the upper body of an old lady carved in marble by Kang Kwan-wook, an abstract human figure by Liu In and a simplified erotic sculpture of a man and a woman by Lee Il-ho. Estimated successful bids for the sculptures range from 4 million or 5 million won to 10 million won.

Three calligraphy works by former President Chun Doo-hwan will also come under the hammer. Presidential calligraphy works were popular at past auctions.

Calligraphy by former President Kim Dae-jung sold for 23 million won, 12 times as high as the suggested opening bid at K Auction on Dec. 12 last year. A calligraphy work by Chun sold for 11 million won, 11 times higher than the opening bid.

Chun’s collection up for sale is on display at the K Auction exhibition hall in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, until March 11.

The law enforcement agency has collected more than 5.9 trillion won in unpaid fines from three auctions at Seoul Auction and K Auction since December last year, with 544 pieces sold among the total 605 artworks.

Chun was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 262.8 billion won for a military coup and corruption in 1997. However, he did not pay the fine, citing the lack of money, and then succumbed to pressure from the prosecution which intensified an investigation into his family members and their business dealings and the seizure of their assets. Finally, in September last year, the family announced it would pay the fine by selling its real estate, financial assets and art collection.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)