Auctioneer Spotlight: Alan Ridderhof
Many Park West collectors develop lasting friendships with our art teams, underscoring our 49-year reputation of connecting people from all walks of life with artwork they love.
Here’s a chance to get to know one Park West auctioneer more as he shares some of his favorite client memories, travel adventures, and auction moments.
Alan Ridderhof believes that land-based life isn’t for him. As a celebrated auctioneer with Park West, that’s a good thing. Alan loves the lifestyle that comes with working at sea, but more than anything, he loves connecting people with the perfect work of art. While cruise ship life has no shortage of challenges, Alan opts to turn them all into opportunities. This is his story.
Previous ships as auctioneer: Carnival (CCL) Paradise, CCL Conquest, CCL Dream, CCL Vista
Current ship: CCL Vista
Where is your hometown?
Alan: I bounce back and forth between Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?
Alan: I’ve been an auctioneer alongside Park West for three years. Before that, I traveled around Europe for seven years and worked odd jobs to fund my travels. Next, I decided to pursue my passion for the exact science and moved to New York City to study mathematics and physics. After I graduated, I moved back to South Africa and opened up my own art gallery to display some of my friends’ works. Although I enjoyed it, I soon got “itchy feet” again and started looking for opportunities to work and travel. From the moment I contacted Park West I knew it was the right fit for me—I absolutely love it.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Alan: The artist I admire most is Joan Miró. Not only was he an incredibly influential Surrealist, but he also stayed true to himself throughout his pursuits as an artist. His success followed organically as a result. He actually worked as an accountant at an early age and pursued his passion for painting (against his family’s wishes) later in life.
He also painted abstract art long before it was a popular, or even accepted, movement. Miró’s art is a journey. It takes time to break through the barrier of appreciating his work, but once you do, every art form seems to hold more meaning.
What is your favorite client memory?
Alan: One of my most miraculous client experiences happened only recently! My team was finishing up gallery appointments on the last night of the cruise when a guest came in to look at Marcus Glenn’s “Jazzy Butterfly.” She couldn’t contain her excitement, it was clear that this particular piece was incredibly moving to her. As I begin to assist her, coincidences kept unfolding.
The artwork depicts an acrylic and stamped metal butterfly surrounded by smaller butterflies, feathers, ribbons, and allusions to music. The client pointed out that she had a butterfly tattoo with a pink ribbon on her ankle as a tribute to her mother who passed away from cancer. She also had a daughter named Jass “Jazzy,” like the title of the painting.
The client had never collected an artwork before, but it was clear that nobody in the world could appreciate this painting more. My gallery director and I worked with her for almost two hours to make collecting the artwork possible. Many tears were shed from both sides of the desk, and we helped make it hers. It was one of the most touching experiences I’ve had.
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?
Alan: I cannot get enough of Cozumel! We visit the port almost every week, so I’ve got to know the island very well. I also received my scuba diving license there and have developed a profound respect for the ocean. I’ve been able to experience the beauty of both the island’s reefs and land—I never have a dull time.
What does life look like when you’re home on vacation?
Alan: On vacation, I don’t sit still. I love to pack my car with a few essentials and just hit the road. The most important thing to keep is an open mind. I often travel between my two homes—Johannesburg and Cape Town—which can take up to two weeks. I love taking the Garden Route, which is 700 miles of coastal road. I often go bungee jumping, whale watching, shark cage diving, and camping along the way. The closer to nature I am, the more I enjoy the journey.
Please tell us about your experience being an auctioneer aboard Carnival Vista.
Alan: The Vista is Carnival’s flagship, so there are a lot of new technological advances to make the passengers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.
I love my team—they are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They always give 110 percent to make sure our program is fun, informative, and memorable. I believe we’ve done just that!
Want to travel the world? Learn more about careers with Park West’s thrilling cruise ship art programming on Art Auctions Abroad.