International shoppers are in luck: Christie’s auction house has has been granted a license and will become the first international auction house to operate independently in China, which has already overtaken the United States as the world’s largest art and auction market, the New York Times is reporting.
Sotheby’s and Christie’s have been operating in Hong Kong for a long time, and have seen their business explode in the city, which is governed independently, the story continues. Sotheby's formed a joint venture in Beijing, and Christie’s has signed its own agreement for Shanghai. The move allows Christie’s to sell directly to a growing class of wealthy collectors in China, many of whom have been spending huge sums of money in recent years to buy fine art, wine, watches, jewelry and other items at auctions around the world.
Christie's reportedly plans to hold its first auction this fall, though the company said the agreement restricted Christie’s from dealing in “cultural relics.” The company can operate throughout China, but will be based in Shanghai and pay taxes there. Analysts say Sotheby’s and Christie’s hope to capture a share of the market and compete by promising higher standards for authenticating and evaluating art and other collectibles.