21 September 2012

Sotheby’s expands in China, JV agreement with Beijing GeHua Art Company

Hong Kong - 21 September 2012 - Sotheby’s has signed an equity joint venture agreement with Beijing GeHua Art Company, a Beijing State-Owned Enterprise that is part of GeHua Cultural and Development Group. Establishment of the joint venture, which is subject to approval from the Chinese government, would represent a major expansion of Sotheby’s presence in China and will enhance its services to its Mainland Chinese clients. Sotheby’s will be the first international fine art auction house in China and the controlling shareholder in this business, responsible for the day-today operation and management of the company that will be called Sotheby’s (Beijing) Auction Co., Ltd. 

The joint venture will also allow Sotheby’s to take advantage of a planned free port project that GeHua is developing within the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing, which will serve as a tax-advantaged storage location and provide a platform for various activities. Sotheby’s will focus on auctions and selling exhibitions of non-cultural relics, travelling exhibitions and other related activities. 

Discussing this joint venture agreement with Beijing GeHua Art Company, Kevin Ching, CEO Sotheby’s Asia, commented: “Sotheby’s has been committed to its Chinese clients for over 35 years. China and its growing class of collectors has been the single most attractive growth market for the company, and collectors from this region have become a significant force in our salerooms worldwide. The project the Beijing Gehua Art Company is developing is unique and ground-breaking in the Chinese marketplace. Sotheby’s is pleased to be at the forefront of this unprecedented initiative, and to be the first international fine art auction house entering a joint venture company with a prominent Chinese state owned enterprise partner, Beijing GeHua Art Company. We look forward to the anticipated approval of our Joint Venture by the Chinese Authorities as it will enable us to bring our world class expertise, innovation and professional integrity to our clients in China. We are excited by the possibility of operating in China and our future plans for Beijing include presenting a major auction event in 2013 as well as staging exhibitions of some of the treasures from around the world that Sotheby's is entrusted to handle.” 

Commenting on this partnership, Mr. Wang Yudong, General Manager of GeHua Fine Art Company, said: “Beijing GeHua Art Company is very pleased to partner with Sotheby’s on this ground-breaking initiative. They bring the prestige of their international brand name and years of art world experience to the benefit of the collecting community and this project.” 

Sotheby’s is a global company that engages in art auction, private sales and art-related financing activities. The Company operates in 40 countries, with principal salesrooms located in New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. The Company also regularly conducts auctions in six other salesrooms around the world. 

Sotheby’s in China - Sotheby’s was the first auction house in Hong Kong, opening an office in 1973 and holding its first auction that same year. In 1994 and 2007, Sotheby’s opened representative offices in Shanghai and Beijing respectively. In 1995, Sotheby’s began staging travelling exhibitions in China. 

Source: Sotheby’s