Park West Gallery Review: Cruise Ship Art Auctions and VIP Events

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Park West Gallery is a commercial art gallery that’s been around since 1969. Based in Southfield, Michigan, Park West conducts auctions worldwide. In 1995, Park West Gallery began hosting art auctions on cruises, and today, you’ll find them on over 90 cruise ships around the world.

In this Park West Gallery review, I’ll share my experiences with cruise ship auctions as well as a Park West VIP event.

Park West Gallery Review - Michael Godard
A fun piece by Michael Godard that’s hanging up in my living room now.

Park West Headquarters and Park West Museum

Park West Gallery headquarters and Park West Museum are open to the public.

Location: 29469 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, Michigan 48034

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact: 248-354-2343

Park West Gallery Artists: You’ll find works from well-known artists at Park West Gallery cruise ship and VIP events including:

  • Yaacov Agam
  • Romero Britto
  • Michael Godard
  • David Le Batard (LEBO)
  • Thomas Kincade
  • KRE8
  • Peter Max
  • Pino
  • Itzchak Tarkay
  • Tim Yanke

Park West Gallery Locations

Park West Gallery New York City

  • 411 West Broadway
  • Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Park West Gallery Hawaii

  • Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu
  • Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Gallery tours every Sunday to Thursday at 3 p.m.

Park West Gallery Las Vegas

  • Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace
  • Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Park West Gallery on Cruise Ships 

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.

Cruise Ship Art Auctions | Park West Gallery on cruise ships

Park West Gallery is responsible for most of the major cruise ship art auctions and I have been to several of their onboard auctions.

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.

Park West Gallery Review

2023 Update: Cruise ship art auctions by Park West Gallery have changed in recent years. The recent auctions I have been to haven’t been as awesome as they were in my first years of attending them. They have cut back on the free artworks and free champage, and overall, they have been less organized and frankly, more confusing. That being said, I have still found some awesome peices at reasonable prices, so if I’m on a cruise, you’ll still find me at the art auctions. I even attended a Park West Gallery online acution recently!

Each Park West Gallery auction I have been to has been slightly different, but they all follow the same general flow. I’ve only seen a bidding war a few times. Mostly, they have more than one piece to sell, so it’s not a high-pressure situation.

Park West Gallery offers 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.

Park West Art Auction on Norwegian Star
Park West Gallery art auction on Norwegian Star.

My Collection from Park West Gallery

I really enjoy buying artwork when I go on trips. They aren’t all from Park West — I’ve bought watercolors from a street artist in Florence, gift shop art on my honeymoon in St. Lucia, photographs from underwater photographers in Hawaii (Cesere Brothers – they are amazing!), a few pieces from a gallery in New Orleans, and even prints from a seller on Etsy.

But, a large chunk of my art collection is from cruise ship art auctions with Park West Gallery. I’ve collected works from Peter Max, Michael Godard (my very first Park West purchase was a Godard), David “Lebo” LeBatard, Yuval Wolfson, and Jean Baptiste.

Buying a David LeBatard artwork from Park West Gallery

David LeBetard, also known as Lebo, is one of my favorite artists. I purchased 2 more of his pieces on my last cruise. Unfortunately he passed away less than a week later. I was so thankful to add these pieces to my collection before he died. I have since bought 1 more piece from a Park West online auction so my Lebo colleciton now has 5 pieces.

Raffles and Giveaways

Every Park West cruise auction I have attended has its fair share of giveaways and raffles. Most of the time you’ll get tickets just for showing up — do this. Each cruise will have a selection of large-sized prints to giveaway. If you win one, 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.

Park West Gallery art auction on Royal Caribbean
Auctioning off some gorgeous Peter Max sculptures on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

Art Education

This is for all of the true art nerds. The auctioneers do a great job of giving you a little art history during the auction, and they have plenty of stories to tell about the works and artists. Many cruises will also offer art seminars that are separate from the auctions. These events focus on art history, a few specific artists, and art terminology.

Is Park West Gallery Reputable?

Park West Gallery is a reputable company, but you should go into each auction with caution.

While I’ve found great values on artwork at Park West Gallery auctions, keep in mind that they are doing everything they can to get you to buy something.

I’ve found that their claims of value can be a tad exaggerated. If they’re selling you a piece of art for $500, they might claim that it’s worth $1,500. To me, if they’re selling it for $500, it’s worth $500. That doesn’t mean they’re trying to scam you into buying junk — they’re trying to sell you a piece of art that’s worth $500. Make sense?

The artists Park West works with are well-known and many were world-famous artists before having any relationship with Park West (Peter Max, I’m looking at you).

So, as long as you go into the auction with open eyes, you’ll be fine…and hopefully you’ll find some great art to take home!

Pro Tip: Try out a couple of different auctions before passing judgment. Some auctions are better than others. Unfortunately, the auctions I attended on the Norwegian Star and Grand Princess were pretty mediocre. As someone who has been to lots of Park West Gallery events, I was confused by how they were running it. If those had been my first auctions, I would have never gone to a second.

Park West Gallery VIP Events

Once you purchase enough art from Park West Gallery, you’ll have the opportunity to be invited to a VIP event. These can be held on cruise ships or on land — they range from weekend events to week-long European cruises!

I attended a Park West Gallery VIP land event in French Lick, Indiana as the guest of a family member. The event included food, drinks, and accommodations.

The VIP events feature specific artists and often the artists will actually be at the event with you. I was thrilled to meet Peter Max at the VIP event I attended as well as Yuval Wolfson and Peter Nixon.

Park West VIP Event with Peter Max
I was beyond thrilled to meet Peter Max at a Park West Gallery VIP event! Image Credit: Peter Max

Final Thoughts

Park West Gallery is a well-known name in the art world. Based in Michigan, you’ll find Park West art auctions all around the world on land and sea.

If you’ve been to an art auction on a cruise ship, chances are, it’s been a Park West Gallery auction. These auctions are a fun way to build your collection while you’re on vacation.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Thomas A Tarsia

    Im actually looking for a piece of art i saw on board the independence of the seas it was a smaller painting of a very colorful butterfly can you help me

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      Hi Thomas,
      I would suggest contacting Park West Gallery directly. Good luck finding the painting!

  2. Chip

    Ok, I’ll chime in on this subject. My initial impressions of Park West Gallery was that of a company selling snake oil. I too thought these people were nuts for buying a poster with maybe an obscure artist’s signature. My wife and I had already purchased several grades of art from a beloved American artist recently deceased. Coupled with my art history class in college, I thought I knew more. To the internet I went starting my due diligence and researching everything about Park West and the artist they represent. What I found was a legitimate company that found a niche market offering art on cruise ships, along with their land based operation. I found a company steeped in showcasing new and upcoming artist. One can only be so lucky to purchase an original from an upcoming artist.
    Yes, they offer prints and every medium of painting up to originals. It is up to the buyer to know what thay are purchasing. As well, art is subjective, if it moves you, evokes an emotion or you just like the colors; then maybe that piece is for you regardless if it is a poster or an original work of art.
    One last thought, we now have hanging a wonderful work of art by Slava Ilyayev and I did cost comparisons before we made the final purchase. The price was inline with what we got.

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      I love the point you made that art is subjective and that “if it moves you, evokes an emotion or you just like the colors; then maybe that piece is for you regardless if it is a poster or an original work of art.” This is so important to remember. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

    Steve – I agree 100%! I think that’s a great way to look at it. And you are absolutely right about the value of having the artwork framed and shipped – it’s so great to have a piece show up at your doorstep ready to go!

  4. Steve

    My wife and I have been on many cruises and always make it a point, to attend the Art Auctions. Regardless of uninformed opinions, like any material item one buys, its value truly lies in the emotions of the buyer. What a piece is worth to you, isn’t necessarily the same for me. We have a vast collection from a dozen different artists and we have yet to feel duped. We have also learned that it is a greater value to have Park West frame and ship, rather than getting the artwork home and maybe, getting around to framing. While Art Auctions aren’t for everyone, I’d encourage people to check it out; there is never an obligation nor have I ever seen anyone coerced into buying. Further, Park West has exceptionally generous return and exchange policies. Some people buy antiques; others collect memorabilia. Regardless of whether or not one collects anything, buying “art” is a personal choice for visual pleasure. It really doesn’t matter to us what the art “might” be worth in the future; it’s value to us is in the present, just hanging around!

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      Steve – I agree 100%! I think that’s a great way to look at it. And you are absolutely right about the value of having the artwork framed and shipped – it’s so great to have a piece show up at your doorstep ready to go!

  5. Nicole

    I have been lucky enough to attend 2 land events with Park West and my boyfriend has been on several cruises and even more land events. I have enjoyed the experience both times and feel like we paid great prices for the pieces we have purchased. I have met some amazing people and we truly love our collection. We are going on a cruise in December and I am hoping to see Park West there!

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      Hi Nicole – that’s great! I have been to one land event and maybe 5 or 6 cruise auctions. I love them all! Have fun on your next cruise.

  6. Tom

    Katie–this is an important post, because the art companies running these auctions are notorious for inflating prices on a ship, especially for the artists such as Dali that people know. You’ll pay big money for prints, just prints, and once back on land you’ll find they are worth a fraction of what you paid. Even though you’re at sea, get an internet connection and find out what they’re really worth before you buy. I too am a fan of the free champagne, I’ve done that, but the auctions are done unethically (the auction rules would never fly on land), so people beware.

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      Hi Tom, Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know many people are leery of the authenticity of these auctions. I have 2 points – first, I have never seen “just a print” sold at auction – they are all signed limited editions or originals. (yes, the free artwork they give away are just prints). Second, I have always been happy with the price I have paid for the pieces I have bought, but I never believe them when they say how much the piece is worth (they are obviously inflated). As far as I am concerned it’s worth what I pay or can sell it for. I am not sure what auction rules are on dry land but I would hesitate to call the cruise ship auctions “unethical”. However I do realize that they are in this to make money, not give away art for less than it’s worth…

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