Fine art, antiques and collectables worth £8m, consigned from the UK by a consortium of regional auctioneers, arrived safely and without incident in China in time for a ground-breaking sale at the Xiamen Free Port in Fujian Province.

In a week when the Chinese press reported Christie's entrance into the Mainland Chinese market, representatives from the 21 members of the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (Triple-A), recently formed to promote a very British industry in the Far East, were already in the People's Republic promoting a sale titled simply China's First Free Port Auction of Western Artwork.

The ambitious project - a three-way partnership between Triple-A, the Chinese online bidding portal EpaiLive and the Beijing-based auctioneer Huachen Auctions - was launched, to no little fanfare on Friday, April 12, at the British Ambassador's residence in Beijing where a selection of 50 objects (officially exported into China for a pre-sale viewing) were on display.

Beijing Forum

UK regional auctioneers Chris Ewbank of Ewbanks in Surrey and Jeremy Lamond of Halls in Shrewsbury were among the keynote speakers at the International Auctioneers Forum organised by Epai on Monday, April 15, but the following day the operation had moved more than 1300 miles south to the Xangyu Bonded Logistics Park in Xiamen, where most of the consignments for a 360-lot sale could be imported 'duty-free' prior to sale.

There a team of stand-fitters and a number of UK auctioneers worked around the clock to transform a warehouse space into a site worthy of the first sale of Western antiques in China.

A full report of the sale will appear in a future issue.