A national art museum said Saturday it has decided to put on public display renowned painter Chun Kyung-ja's work that her bereaved family alleges is a fake.
This, if realized, would mark the first time that the painting has been shown to the public in 26 years.
"Beautiful Woman" will be part of the exhibition for works by some 100 painters representing the Korean fine art of the 20th century, set to open in the Gwacheon branch of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in mid-April, according to the MMCA.
'Beautiful Wooman' by Chung Kyung-ja
"It is an art museum's duty to show its collection," said Kang Seung-wan, a curator of the MMCA. "We decided to unveil the piece because it has not been shown for more than 20 years and there are many people curious about it."
While alive, Chun had strongly denied that she painted the 1971 portrait. However, the MMCA argued it was the authentic work of the artist. Since she died in 2015, the disagreement has intensified and the family sued six officials at the museum on charges of infringement of copyright laws and defamation.
But prosecutors in December dismissed the charges and ruled that the work is authentic, citing forensic evidence and the opinion of art experts. The family filed an appeal against the decision.
Following the museum's announcement of the exhibition plan, the family vowed to file additional charges against the museum officials if they push ahead with the plan.
"It constitutes a crime to falsely describe a person who is not the copyright holder," said Bae Geum-ja, one of the family's defense lawyers. "If they press ahead with the exhibition, we will additionally sue them on more charges of defamation and copyright infringement."
The museum, in response, said, "Since the painting belongs to the museum, we understand there will be no problem if it is shown inside the museum." Various legal problems that can entangle the exhibit are also under full consideration, it added. (Yonhap)