Over and over again, Park West collectors have told us that one of the highlights of their collecting experience is the lasting friendships they develop with our art auctioneers and gallery teams. Park West takes a great deal of pride in this—these personal connections are a huge part of our mission to connect people from all walks of life with artwork they love.
That’s why, every month, we take a moment to recognize one of the brightest Park West auctioneer teams working today.
This month, we want you to meet Ty and Gracie Braga, two amazing auctioneers from two very different origins. Ty hails from Cape Town, South Africa, while Gracie’s hometown is Des Moines, Iowa. But this married couple shares an eclectic taste in art and loves the cruise ship lifestyle. They’ve introduced countless art lovers to the thrill of collecting with their undeniable passion and excitement for art.
Ty and Gracie recently took a few moments out of their busy schedule to talk with us about some of their favorite artists, client memories, and travel adventures. Enjoy!
Previous Ships: Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) Imagination, CCL Destiny, CCL Spirit, CCL Freedom, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Grandeur of the Seas, RCI Rhapsody of the Seas, RCI Legend of the Seas, Princess Cruise Line (PCL) Golden Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Gem, Celebrity Solstice.
Current ship: Caribbean Princess
Where is your hometown?
Ty: Cape Town, South Africa
Gracie: Des Moines, Iowa
How did you start working as international art auctioneers?
Ty: How I came to be in the art world is perhaps an unorthodox tale—a combination of opportunity and timing. Before joining Park West, I was a part owner in a live entertainment venue hosting live music acts almost nightly back in Cape Town. After selling my business, I began to search for opportunities outside of South Africa with the allure of travel and adventure. I met a previous Park West auctioneer who introduced me to the gallery and, after several interviews, I was invited to a training conference back in January 2011. It all started there.
Gracie: I joined Park West in 2014, after working as a professional dancer and singer in New York City. I have always been surrounded by art and artists. While living in New York City, I discovered my love for all art forms that eventually lead me to Park West.
For most people, the idea of standing in front of a room filled with strangers, talking about your passion, does not come naturally. However, I feel my years spent on stage prepared me for an auctioneering career.
How did you both meet?
Ty: I met Gracie years later, at a similar training conference to the one I attended in 2011. It was her first time and we struck up a friendship that eventually grew into love. It’s strange how art has the power to bring people together and this is what it has done for us.
Our paths crossed many times over the years but finally, this past April, we tied the knot. It is such a blessing to have your significant other by your side while working on board ships. We both love what we do, and we do it out of love.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Ty: Chris DeRubeis, a pioneer in the art world. He challenges conservative thoughts about the art world by throwing away the conventional tools of the trade. Using aluminum sheets as his canvas and power tools as his brush, he is certainly an innovator in a world where it is hard to be considered a true original.
Gracie: David “Lebo” Le Batard, I must say, especially after having the opportunity to get to know him while working for the Park West VIP program. Lebo is a thinker. His style is uniquely his own.
What’s your favorite client memory since working together as a team?
Ty and Gracie: Each cruise we meet hundreds of people, however, there are some who really remind you how great this life is. Those who remind you why you do what you do.
Ray and Sonia are a great example. They were a family experiencing the art program with Park West for the first time and fell in love with it all. We fell in love with them too, to be honest. They arrived as guests and left as friends. We spent hours in the gallery just chatting about everything. This is when you remember this job is not only about art, but rather about people.
Out of all of your adventures around the world, what has been your favorite port?
Ty: I would have to say Greece. The culture and history dating back thousands of years is a journey through time. The food, the vibe, and the energy—it’s all so alluring. I could pack my bags and move there tomorrow with ease.
Gracie: Buenos Aires, Argentina. The wine, the food, and the city’s architecture are all outstanding. Tapas cafes in the late afternoon and tango dancers in the street at night. There are also gorgeous art galleries on every corner filled with local artists.
What does life look like when you’re at home or not working?
Ty: On Saturday, it’s sports, family gatherings, and binge-watching our favorite shows on Netflix!
Gracie: Cooking in my own kitchen, yoga sessions in my living room, and spending time with family.
Please tell us about your experience being auctioneers aboard the PCL Caribbean Princess.
Ty and Gracie: The Caribbean Princess is a great ship visiting some wonderful Caribbean Islands. After all, not many people get to say they wake up in a different country nearly every day, right?
With an amazing collection of art on board, we are also spoiled as art lovers. Princess Cruises really embraces and supports the art program which makes our role on board such a pleasure.