Sotheby's will expand its presence in China with a new, 10-year joint venture that will see the auction house giant team up with a state-owned Chinese art company. The deal will create a new entity called Sotheby’s (Beijing) Auction Co., Ltd.
Sotheby's said the new company would be the first international fine-art auction house in China. The agreement is subject to approval from the Chinese government.
Under the new deal, Sotheby's said it would focus on auctions and exhibitions. It said it would take advantage of the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing, which offers tax-advantaged storage. The first auction of the deal is scheduled to take place later this week at the Millennium Hall of the Beijing World Art Museum at the China Millennium Monument.
In the past, the Chinese government has strictly controlled art sales by international auction houses, often limiting them to Hong Kong.
The new company, which will be majority controlled by Sotheby's, is a partnership with Beijing GeHua Art Co., a division of the state-run GeHua Cultural and Development Group.