A French auction house is planning to venture into Asia and stage its inaugural sale in Hong Kong next month despite the recent stock market turmoil. Isabelle Bresset, a director of Paris-based auction house Artcurial, said although the turmoil might cast a long shadow over the economy, the potential for the art market in Asia remained strong as demonstrated by a continuous growth in clients from the region in search of Western collectibles. "The number of Asian clients has been doubling each year since we started Asian art sales in 2011. We need to get used to this new client base and we have to be there to understand our Asian clients better," said Bresset. Artcurial, which was founded in 2002, will be hosting a two-day sale From Paris to Hong Kong on October 5 and 6, offering 120 lots with pre-sale estimates starting as low as HK$5,000. The sale is being conducted in collaboration with Spink, a British auction house which is already operating in the city. The sale offers comics and modern and contemporary artworks by Western masters such as Pablo Picasso, whose Buste de femme (1967) is among the top lots, with a pre-sale estimate at HK$20 million to HK$25 million. Decorative art, furniture and a collection from a European noble family as well as vintage cars are also on offer, including a 1961 Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster Hard Top, which is expected to fetch HK$10 million to HK$15 million. Pre-sale estimates for many of the lots start at tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars, which Bresset called "conservative". Bresset said although the current market situation was a concern, history showed that art became a stable investment at times like these if works by the right artists were selected. Bresset recalled an Artcurial sale of 18th century furniture in December 2008 held on the day after Lehman Brothers collapsed. She said the sale results remained at the same level as an auction held six months earlier. Another sale took place in London after the July 2005 terrorist bombings - and prices were 10 times above estimates. "At these times when the [market] situation is unsteady and pessimistic, more people see art as an investment for storing their wealth in a safe place," Bresset said. She said she had witnessed an increase in Asian clients coming from Hong Kong, the mainland, Taiwan and Japan buying from the auction house in Paris. Besides Chinese ceramics, said Bresset, Asian clients had acquired Chinese modern art such as paintings by the late Zao Wou-ki. "Some have bought vintage cars, Hermes handbags and comics," she said. She said Hong Kong had already established itself as an art hub and she expected collectors from the region would travel to the city to attend the auction season and Fine Art Asia in the first week of October. "Many auction houses have come to Hong Kong and the competition is intense, but there is still room for a new player," said Bresset.