The 5,000 sq ft Romance Hotel does not have any sign outside it to indicate the 'Enter the Dragon' star ever owned it. It boasts a warren of thin corridors is decorated with aged posters of semi-naked women, and small rooms decorated with small sinks and brown bedcovers. These days, however, the building has become a battleground between its 86-year-old owner Yu Panglin, Lee' fans, and the Hong Kong government.
Panglin, who bought the house 30 years ago for 850,000 HK dollars, claims that the present worth of the property is 100 million HK dollars. After an enormous earthquake hit Sichuan in May, Yu decided to sell the building along with three surrounding plots, and announced that he would donate some of the money thus raised to the rebuilding of the region.
The Hong Kong Bruce Lee Club quickly intervened to stop him, and set up a page on the social networking site Facebook to marshal opposition to the plan and to turn the house into a museum. Lee's widow Linda Lee Caldwell, and daughter Shannon are said to be ready to donate personal items to a new museum.
Fan club's chairman Wong Yiukeung said that little effort had been made to commemorate Lee despite the fact that a tourism boost could be beneficial for the island. "Lots of tourists want to visit the house. I have to tell them to get a partner of the opposite sex in order to get in," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
The film star's younger brother Robert Lee has also stepped into the fray. "My family finds it regretful that the Hong Kong government has not done much for my brother. I urge them to buy the residence and convert it into a museum," he wrote in a letter to Donald Tsang, the chief administrator of Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the government is said to have ruled out spending public money on the building. Yu is said to have agreed to donate the building after his failure to sell it, or swap it for government property elsewhere. He, however, insists that he will allow the house to be turned into a museum only if the government allows him to hugely expand the site into a 30,000 sq ft retail outlet, an idea which has not met with enthusiasm.
"The building is a residence of a simple style without unique architectural claims. Houses like this are very common," said the Antiquities and Monuments Office, adding that expanding the site would destroy the cultural value of the house. Lee's fans have been exasperated by the deadlock. Wong said: "We just have to wait now for the government to make up its mind."