International auction house Sotheby's is opening a massive art gallery in Hong Kong on Saturday, in a bid to tap China's growing appetite for fine art.
The 15,000-square-foot (1,394-square-metre) space in central Hong Kong will allow Sotheby's to hold more auctions on top of its current spring and autumn sales, the firm said.
The $7.2 million gallery, which takes up the entire floor of an upmarket commercial building, is the third for Sotheby's after London and New York.
"Asian clients are so important for us today. They are the ones that make us what we are today," Sotheby's Asia chief executive Kevin Ching told AFP at an preview event on Friday.
"Asia will remain a very important growth area for Sotheby's."Asia now accounts for one-third of Sotheby's worldwide sales in terms of turnover.The gallery opening will feature works by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, as well as French landscape paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries by Claude Monet and Jean-Baptiste-Camillle Corot.
Hong Kong has become the world's third biggest auction centre after New York and London.
Leading Western galleries are clamouring for space in the city, with a string of recent openings linked to the huge Hong Kong International Art Fair that finishes on Sunday.
Sotheby's raked in HK$468 million ($60 million) from its fine Chinese paintings sale in April, more than double the forecast.
Global art auction sales rose to a record $11.5 billion in 2011, according to France-based market data provider Artprice, with China cementing its spot as the top market with $4.79 billion in sales.