SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Samsung’s founding family will donate tens of thousands of rare works of art, including Picassos and Dalis, and hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research to help them pay massive inheritance tax following the death of Chairman Lee last year Kun-hee.
The Lee family, including his wife and three children, are expected to pay more than 12 trillion won ($ 10.8 billion) in inheritance-related taxes, Samsung said Wednesday. That would be the largest amount in South Korea to date and more than three times the country’s total estate tax revenue last year. The family plans to split the payment into six installments over five years, with the first payment coming this month.
Raising cash to pay taxes is vital for the Lee family to expand control of Samsung’s business empire, which spans everything from semiconductors, smartphones, and televisions to construction, shipbuilding, and insurance. Some analysts say the process could cause a shake up across the group.
Giving away the late chairman’s extensive collection of masterpieces could help smooth out the payment as his family would not have to pay taxes on donated art.
The family plans to donate 23,000 pieces from Lee’s personal collection to two state museums. These include ancient Korean paintings, books and other cultural assets designated as national treasures, paintings by modern Korean artists such as Park Soo-keun and Lee Jung-seop, and works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet and Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, said Samsung.
The Lee family will also donate 1 trillion won ($ 900 million) to fund infectious disease research and treatment for children with cancer and rare diseases.
Before his death in October, Lee was credited with transforming Samsung Electronics from a small television manufacturer into a global semiconductor and consumer electronics giant. However, its leadership was also marred by corruption convictions, which highlighted the traditionally bleak relationships between the country’s family-owned conglomerates and politicians. After a heart attack in 2014, he had been hospitalized for years.
Lee’s only son and heir, Lee Jae-yong, who has since led the group in his capacity as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, is currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence for his involvement in a 2016 corruption scandal that sparked massive protests and ousted protests South Korea’s then President.
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