If you have never cruised before you might be thinking, “WTF does an art auction have to do with cruising?” and if you have cruised before you are probably thinking, “free champagne!” Art auctions are my favorite cruise ship activity, and it’s not just because of the free champagne. I was sort of an art nerd in high school and college so this is right up my alley. It’s so fun to browse all of the works on board
and to convince your husband you need to buy one. Park West Gallery is responsible for most of the major cruise ship art auctions and I have been to several of their on board auctions as well as an on land VIP event.
So, it’s time to get liquored up and buy some art!
I’m kidding about getting liquored up to buy art…sort of. These people know what they are doing, so at every art auction you will find free champagne. It makes holding up that bid card a little easier. So, I guess I am saying if you have an alcohol problem and a limited budget, it’s best to avoid these events.
You might think these cruise ship art auctions have a bunch of unknown, small time artists. You would be wrong. While you will find many artists you have never heard of (although they are all known in the art world) you will also find very well known names like Peter Max (one of my favorites), Salvador Dali and Michael Godard (another favorite). I’ve even been to an auction with master works by Picasso.
How It Works
Each auction I have been to has been slightly different, but they all follow the same general flow. Only a few times have I seen a true bidding war. Most of the time, they have more than one piece to sell, so it’s not a high pressure situation. They offer original paintings as well as signed limited edition pieces. Prices vary based on the artworks available and many can be expensive (think tens of thousands of dollars). However, every auction I have been to also offers more affordable pieces under $500. Once you get in this under $500 price range, the deals tend to be fantastic – many times the price is worth the frame alone.
Raffles and Giveaways
Every cruise ship art auction I have attended has its fair share of giveaways and raffles. Most of the time you will get tickets just for showing up – do this. Each cruise will have a selection of large sized prints to giveaway. You can either pay to have it shipped in a tube ($30-$50) or pay a couple of hundred dollars to have it framed. If you really like the “free” piece, I would recommend paying to have it framed. The first time I won one of these I figured it would be cheaper to frame it at home – I was wrong. I ended up paying $400 to have this thing framed when it would have cost maybe $200 on the ship (with a much nicer frame). Lesson learned.
They also give small sized art prints away to anyone who attends the auction. And free champagne.
This is for all of the true art nerds! The auctioneers do a great job at giving you a little art history during the auction, and they have plenty of stories to tell about the works and artists. The last cruise I was on also had a number of art seminars that were separate from the auctions, focusing on art history, a few specific artists and art terminology. I know what you are thinking…but really, they were fun!
Have you ever been to a cruise ship art auction? What did you think!