Rich people have become more selective about which art to buy

It seems like not just any Picasso will do anymore. Tad Smith, the CEO of Sotheby’s recently explained on CNBC that art buyers are becoming more discerning.

While art aficionados are still laying down beaucoup bucks for truly extraordinary piece bids, they want only very special items. “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.”

Because of the topsy turvy global markets of late and upheaval in China, some 1%-ers are reticent to fork over big money for art. Yet others, because of these same factors, may actually be drawn to it as an investment, feeling art may be safer than other less stable options.

“The percentage of lots that didn’t sell went up but the sales overall remained relatively unaffected because people were stepping up to buy the things they really wanted. You saw similar things in London and with our Italian and contemporary evening sale,” explains Smith.