A yellow-and-black jumpsuit made famous by martial-arts star Bruce Lee is expected to fetch as much as 300,000 Hong Kong dollars (more than US$38,600) at an auction Thursday in Hong Kong.
Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Lee’s death, the auction will consist of 14 items from the actor’s life and career. They are owned by an unnamed Hollywood collector and movie-industry insider, said Anna Lee, vice chairman of Spink China, the firm organizing the sale.
Ms. Lee, who isn’t related to Bruce Lee, noted that the polyester suit worn by the actor in the 1972 movie “Game of Death” has shrunk over the years. It also has a torn zipper at the back – a casualty of the martial arts star’s fight with Korean hapkido master Ji Han Jae.
The jumpsuit is one of two tailored for the Hong Kong movie star for “Game of Death,” according to the auction house. It was given by Lee to Taky Kimura, a Japanese-American martial artist who was one of Lee’s students and friend, who in turn sold it to the current owner.
The other jumpsuit is currently on display as part of a Bruce Lee exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
Other items up for auction include a pair of yellow-and-black wooden nunchaku, featured in the same movie, estimated to sell for as much as HK$300,000; a pair of Lee’s worn cotton Kung Fu shoes, with a high estimate of HK$40,000; and a jade pendant, designed and commissioned by Lee himself, estimated to fetch up to HK$200,000.
Made in May 1973, just two months prior to Lee’s death at age 32, the pendant is made of green jade and gold and features two opposing dragons, emulating the yin-yang symbol. According to the auction firm, Lee never picked up the item from the jeweler, and it was the actor’s brother Robert Lee who ended up paying for and claiming the item. He later sold it directly to the current owner.
The Bruce Lee Club, a Hong Kong-based fan organization, questioned the authenticity of some of the items on its Facebook page, arguing that the movie posters were not consistent with the ones produced while Lee was still alive. The allegations were widely reported in local Hong Kong media.
Spink’s Ms. Lee declined to respond to the allegations of forgery. She did, however, say that each item came signed with a letter of authenticity from Taky Kimura, Robert Lee and George Lee – the three individuals who owned the items prior to the current owner.
“I’ve been talking to this collector for years for this sale,” said Ms. Lee. “When I first saw these items, I thought, ‘Not bad at all.’ I’m not a Kung Fu fanatic, but when I saw the nunchuks and the suit, I was impressed.”