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European art fair eyes opportunities in China

By Li Xiang in Paris | | Updated: 2013-03-21 21:31

TEFAF, the world’s biggest art and antiques fair, is collaborating with auction house Sotheby's to explore the possibilities of expansion into China's high-end art market.

The Netherland-based fine art fair is currently in talks with a joint venture formed by Sotheby's with China's state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group to launch a large-scale art exhibition known as TEFAF Beijing 2014 next year.

"It would represent a ground-breaking collaboration between a leading international auction house and the world's most important art and antiques fair," the European art fair said in a recent statement.

Ben Janssens, chairman of TEFAF's executive committee said that the cooperation with Sotheby's joint venture in China highlighted its ambition to bring European art to China, one of the most important art markets in the world.

"We feel now is the time to further develop our presence in China, which is one of the most important art markets," he said.

"As TEFAF has in recent years made efforts to explore the market in China, we are excited to have agreed with Sotheby's exclusively to explore the possibilities of a partnership to establish 'TEFAF Beijing'," he added.

Janssens said that TEFAF is committed to contribute to the further growth of the European art market in China by facilitating a high end art market platform for Chinese collectors and international art dealers.

Sales of art and antiques in China raised 10.6 billion euros (RMB85 billion) last year, making it the world’s second-biggest market, according to a report published last week by the European Fine Art Foundation.

The New-York based auction house Sotheby’s gained a foothold in the Chinese mainland last year by investing $1.2m for 80 percent ownership of a joint venture with the Chinese state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group.

The joint venture will allow the auction house to take advantage of the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing which is being developed by Gehua.

The free trade zone will serve as a "tax-advantaged storage location and provide a platform for art-related auctions and private selling exhibitions of non-cultural relics, travelling exhibitions, and educational activities", according to Sotheby’s.

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