Christine Chu spends a lot of time in Europe, hunting around back-street antique shops and art galleries. Fourteen years ago she bought a still life by a lesser-known Dutch painter Willem Van Leen for $500,000. Recently it was appraised at $10 million. The experience bolstered her confidence and fostered a belief it is possible to make good money out of art. Fast forward about two decades and Ms Chu is putting her eye for good painting to the test in a different way. The Christine Gallery on Wyndham Street, which opened last week, will specialise in European painters - whom the local gallery scene has tended to bypass in favour of established and rising Asian names. The venture sounds risky, especially amid the sidewalk culture of Soho that is already crowded with galleries, but Ms Chu thinks she has a ready target market with the cash to spend. 'I am thinking particularly of newly wealthy mainland people who have acquired luxury homes and want to furnish them appropriately,' Ms Chu says. Whether the mainland's nouveau riche take to classic European oil painting remains to be seen, but Ms Chu is making it relatively easy for those who wish to dabble. Prices for most works range between $50,000 and $100,000, with selected works by famous artists fetching more. Life paintings by Willem van Leen and portraits by Francois Boucher sell in the six-figure range. As part of her service, she plans to provide a little informal art history - and a little interior decorating counsel. 'Many of them are not certain of international standards of taste and want some guidance,' she says of her target market. 'You have to realise that a brand new market has grown up for art here.' Born in Korea, Ms Chu moved to Hong Kong in 1978 to work for Cathay Pacific. She married a local lawyer in 1988. 'All my paintings are very peaceful, I think Hong Kong people need surroundings that will calm them down,' she says. In her arsenal of established painters on show, Mr Chu offers a few personal discoveries. During her time in Europe she met Spanish painter Carlos Laharrague. Fond of his work, she pursued the reclusive artist to his home in Madrid. At the age of 74 he had decided to give up painting, but she convinced him to start again and to let her have the exclusive agency rights for his paintings world-wide. Since then he has created what she believes are several masterpieces, several of which are currently on show in the gallery. 'Recognition has come late for this painter, but I believe his paintings will shoot up in value in the future,' she says. The gallery is showing 70 paintings drawn from Ms Chu's personal collection. She intends to rotate additional works over time. 'There are fewer and fewer paintings by the great painters on the market, so the value goes up steadily,' she says.