Art seized from Chun family to be auctioned next month Dec 02 2013
A total of 235 works of art will be shown to the public for the first time at K Auction and Seoul Auction

“24-VIII-65 South East” by Kim Whanki. (K Auction)

The art collection confiscated from the family of former President Chun Doo-hwan will be put on the auction block in December at two major auction houses in Korea.

The art collection confiscated from the family of former President Chun Doo-hwan will be put on the auction block in December at two major auction houses in Korea.

K Auction and Seoul Auction, designated as the official auction houses by the Korean government to sell the seized artworks, will present a total of 235 pieces at their regular winter auctions next month.

The artworks are estimated to be worth more than 3.7 billion won ($3 million) and include masterpieces of Korean art ― from old landscape paintings by the master painters of the late Joseon period to early modern works by Kim Whanki and Lee Dae-won.

Prosecutors seized a total of 600 artworks, estimated to be worth more than 5 billion won, according to auction officials. The two auction houses are assigned around 300 pieces of artwork each to sell.

The amount collected through the auctions will be used to pay the fine imposed on former President Chun, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 262.8 billion won on a number of charges including rebellion in 1997. The Chun family, reluctant to pay the fine, has been under pressure to settle the fine as the Park Geun-hye government investigated the family intensely this year. In September the Chun family announced that it would pay up by selling their real estate, financial assets and art collection in September.

K Auction will be the first auction house to present 80 artworks from the collection on Dec. 11, followed by an online auction on Dec. 13-17. Highlights include major modern and contemporary paintings by Kim Whanki, Lee Dae-won, Kim Jong-hak, Oh Chi-gyun and the calligraphy of former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Kim Dae-jung.

A 1965 abstract painting by Kim Whanki is estimated to be worth between 450 million won and 800 million won, according to K Auction.

“The Chun collection is diverse in genres and artists. It includes representative works in Korean art, works of mid-career artists, sculptures and calligraphy of former Presidents,” said Lee Sang-kyu, CEO of K Auction, at a press conference on Wednesday.

K Auction titled the collection “Chun Jae-kook Art Collection” after the former president’s eldest son, an avid collector who claimed to have planned to establish a museum.

Lee noted the price of the artworks are set at half or one-third the initial price the Chun family spent acquiring them.

Seoul Auction is scheduled to present its Chun collection a week later, on Dec. 18.

The auction house is presenting old landscape paintings by the nine late-Joseon master painters, including Jeong Seon, Kang Se-hwang and Sim Sa-jeong. The old masterpieces are estimated to be worth 500 million won to 600 million won each.

It will also present “Farm,” one of the most talked about paintings by modern painter Lee Dae-won, estimated to be worth between 300 million won and 400 million won. “Farm,” part of Lee’s flamboyant “Farm” series, is reported to never have been put on the market as the artist gave the painting as a gift to former President Chun.

Another notable part of the collection is artworks of mid-career Korean artists, who were grouped to symbolize Korea’s vibrant art scene in the book “Art Vivant,” published by Sigongsa, which is run by the eldest Chun son.

Highlights among foreign artwork include American post-modern artist David Salle’s acrylic painting, works of Italian Trans-avant-garde movement artist Mimmo Paladino, Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang and prints by Francis Bacon.

The auction for the Chun collection will be held on Dec. 11 at K Auction in Sinsa-dong and on Dec. 18 at Seoul Auction in Pyeonchang-dong, Seoul.

The two auction houses are expected to hold a couple more auctions for the Chun collection throughout early next year.

By Lee Woo-young


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