The family of Samsung’s late chairman Lee Kun-hee will donate a vast art collection as it faces a $10.8bn (£7.7bn) inheritance tax bill on his estate following his death last year.
Lee, who is credited with transforming the South Korean company into the world’s largest smartphone and memory chip maker, died in October at the age of 78, leaving a fortune worth more than $20bn.
The inheritance tax bill, which is one of the largest in history, has been closely watched due to its potential to dilute the family’s controlling stake in Samsung.
The heirs said they planned to pay the bill in six instalments over five years from this month, adding that it was “our civic duty and responsibility to pay all taxes”.
Much of Lee’s $1.8bn personal art collection, including works by Picasso, Monet and Chagall, will be donated to organisations including the National Museum of Korea and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Former culture ministers and art groups had previously called for laws allowing the family to donate the art in lieu of some of the tax bill.
Shares in Samsung C&T Corp, the conglomerate’s de facto holding company, dropped as much as 5.5 per cent after the bill was announced, before settling down almost three per cent.
A statement for the company provided no detail on how Lee’s shares would be distributed or sold, nor how the family planned to fund the payments.
Analysts have said the family is likely to use loans and dividends from both their own and Lee’s shares to pay the tax.
Lee’s empire includes holdings in a range of different Samsung companies, which together make up South Korea’s largest family-owned business empire.
Jay Y. Lee, the heir to the fortune, is currently halfway through a 30-month jail sentence for bribery and other offences.
The family also announced plans for a large donation to South Korean society, including hundreds of millions to improve public healthcare.