Iconic London auction house Christie’s will become the first international auction house to operate in mainland China, it was announced yesterday.
The predominantly fine art, antique and jewellery auctioneer is now expected to open its Shanghai base this Autumn.
Christie’s is the first major player in its field to secure the highly coveted rights to work in China. Until now, most auction houses and galleries have operated out of Hong Kong, which has more liberal business rules and is subject to less government restrictions.
While demand for high-end art has been booming in China, the barriers to entry have remained high and several scandals involving the detention of a German art handler, alongside the intimidation of political artists and galleries associated with them, have already shaken the infant industry.
Christie’s, however, has been successfully operating in China for eight years with the help of local partner Forever International Auction. The London-founded auctions house was established in 1766 and is now owned by French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault. It already sports two London offices, as well as various bases in Europe, Middle East and America.