Christie's International auction house debuted in mainland China on Thursday with a sale of art, jewelry, watches and wine that brought a total $25 million for 42 lots.
A 1969 oil painting titled "Homme Assis" by Pablo Picasso brought $1.9 million, almost double its pre-auction estimate, while the top lot was a ruby and diamond necklace that sold for $3.5 million, less than its high estimate of $4.6 million.
"Interest from Chinese buyers was very strong, with international bidders on the phone and online all coming together," Christie's CEO Steven Murphy said at a post-sale news conference in Shanghai. More than two-thrids of the buyers were from China, according to Christie's.
Before receiving a license to sell in China, Christie's organized sales on the mainland through a Chinese auction firm that used its international trademark since 2005.
China bought about $12.02 billion of art and collectibles in 2012. Despite the glowing numbers, some experts say the Chinese market is beset with problems such as tremendous taxes, regulations, fakes and market manipulations.