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Bruce Lee's iconic jumpsuit fetches $100,000 at auction

By Sophie Brown, CNN
updated 12:45 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Spink auction house vice chairperson, Anna Lee, presents a yellow and black jumpsuit worn by Bruce Lee and his nunchaku used during the filming of "Game of Death" in 1972. Spink auction house vice chairperson, Anna Lee, presents a yellow and black jumpsuit worn by Bruce Lee and his nunchaku used during the filming of "Game of Death" in 1972.
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Iconic yellow jumpsuit
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Jade dragon pendant
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A rare collection of Bruce Lee's belongings sold for over $250,000 at auction
  • NEW: The top sale item, a yellow-and-black jumpsuit went for $100,000
  • NEW: All 14 lots including weapons from his last film and hand-made drawings were sold

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A yellow jumpsuit worn by martial arts legend Bruce Lee in one of his final fight scenes fetched HK$780,000 ($100,500) at auction on Thursday.

The famous outfit was one of 14 items in a collection of the actor's personal belongings and props that went under the hammer in Hong Kong. The sale fetched a total of more than HK$2 million ($258,000) -- double the auction house's estimate.

The costume, which features black stripes, was sold to an anonymous online bidder who purchased a total of six pieces.

It's one of only two jumpsuits worn by Lee during filming of the movie, "Game of Death," and has inspired tributes in popular culture ranging from Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" to the ninth video game in the "Grand Theft Auto" series.

Wooden nunchaku (also known as nunchuks) used in the central fighting sequence in "Game of Death" went to a British investment manager, George Philips, for HK$540,000 ($69,000).

A green bamboo whip from the same film sold for HK$96,000 ($12,000).

The auction marked the first time these pieces have been offered in Hong Kong, according to Anna Lee, vice-chairperson of Spink auction house, which sold the items on behalf of an unnamed collector in the U.S. film industry.

All the lots came with a certificate of authenticity signed by members of Bruce Lee's family and friends, who inherited the items in 1973 after Lee's sudden death at the age of 32.

READ: Bruce Lee exhibition hits Hong Kong

Lee gave most pieces to his former student, Taky Kimura, and to George Lee -- a close friend who made many of the actor's fighting props.

A jade pendant, which sold for HK$156,000 ($20,000), came from his brother, Robert. Bruce Lee designed and ordered the piece from one of Hong Kong's oldest jewelers just months before his death.

"He didn't get to see it because he passed away," Spink's Lee said.

After the kung fu star's death, his brother went to the jeweler, Chow Sang Sang, and paid for the piece, which features two opposing dragons in white and yellow gold, taking it into his possession.

While Lee is known as one of the world's greatest martial arts practitioners, he had many artistic talents including drawing, poetry and cha cha dancing.

Two hand-drawn pieces were also part of the Hong Kong sale, including a sketch of Chinese master monk believed to be a conceptual character for "The Green Bamboo Warrior," a movie project Lee was working on at the time of his death. The lot went for HK$66,000 ($8,500).

READ: English-language manual helps the fight back for kung fu

The other was an illustration of his teachings on water's flexible nature as an underlying principle of his martial arts philosophy, jeet kune do, which fetched HK$78,000 ($10,000).

Signed copies of a karate training book and a commemorative brochure, as well as a pair of Lee's kung fu shoes were among the other sale items.

"Bruce Lee is such an icon in Hong Kong. He personally kind of started this kung fu frenzy in the world way before Jackie Chan," said Lee at Spink.

"Although he was born in the United States, his roots were definitely in Hong Kong."

"He loved to write poems, he loved to draw; he was so cultural apart from being a kung fu star. He is definitely a legend," she said.

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco in 1940 but spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong after his parents returned to their hometown while Lee was an infant.

He died after suffering an allergic reaction to pain medication in July 1973, while filming of "Game of Death" was still in progress.

A version of the film was released five years later.

The Spink auction was one of a series of events being held this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the star's death.

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