Amid growing concerns about a bubble in the art market, Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith said buyers are becoming more "discerning" and "careful" about what they buy. But they are still bidding big bucks for the best pieces.
"All of our clients are stepping up to buy things they really want that are high quality items that are fresh," Smith told CNBC on Tuesday. "They are being more careful on where they spend and focusing on what they really want rather than the things they might have wanted when they felt a little more flush."
The big fall auction season, which starts next week, comes at a critical moment in the global market. While prices have been soaring for years for major works, weakness in China and volatile financial markets around the world could test buyer demand for multimillion-dollar art.
While some experts say the rise in global uncertainty could drive even more money into art as a safe haven for wealth, others say prices have become too high for even the richest of collectors, and may be set for a correction — or, at least, a slowdown.