Christie's Expands to China It will be first independent foreign auction house in the country By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Apr 9, 2013 12:45 PM CDT 0 comments Comments Christie's employees speak at the auction house's offices in London, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (Newser) – One more sign that China has a growing class of rich people ready to spend money: Christie's has been granted permission to become the first independent foreign auction house in the country, the New York Times reports. The company's first auction will occur in Shanghai this fall. It's a big coup for the auction house, as Chinese collectors have been dropping huge sums lately in worldwide auctions, the Times notes. Christie's will be allowed to operate all over the country, but it says it can't sell "cultural relics" under the agreement. Sotheby's began operating in China last year in a collaboration with a state-owned company. The country's art market "has grown at an unprecedented rate," says Christie's CEO. That market is down from 2011, however, when it was the world's biggest, the AP reports. That year, it saw $9.3 billion in revenues; last year, the figure was $4.5 billion.