Auctioneer Spotlight: Chris Vounnou and Katherine Moreno
Many of our Park West collectors develop friendships with the art teams over the course of their land or sea vacations. Here’s a chance to get to know them more as they share their favorite adventures in the art world.
Working at sea, Chris Vounnou and Katherine Moreno have one rule: “Do everything to the best of your ability.” This principle underlies the couple’s success, their adventurous spirit, and their passion for people. The pair met working on the Norwegian Getaway over a year ago and continue to practice their mantra as international art dealers.
Previous ships as auctioneer: Carnival (CCL) Liberty, CCL Glory, CCL Sensation, CCL Sunshine, CCL Freedom, Norwegian (NCL) Getaway, Holland America Maasdam
Current ship: NCL Escape
Where is your hometown?
Chris: Johannesburg, South Africa
Katherine: Miami, Florida
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?
Chris: I started working alongside Park West four years ago. As an economics major, my goal was to understand and experience international business. With that in mind, I began to work on board for Celebrity Cruises in order to travel and experience commerce in a different light. During that time period, my announcements for the gift shops were overheard by the art team on the Celebrity Eclipse. From that point, I went from trumpeting fine watches and jewelry to fine art. I’ve always had a passion for people and public speaking, so being an auctioneer is one of the best career paths for me.
Katherine: Before starting alongside Park West a year and a half ago, I co-founded a walking art tour company in Wynwood, Florida, a budding cultural and artistic hub. My passion for the arts and communications flowed into my career now, allowing me to share my passion with guests around the world.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Chris: Peter Max has to be one of my favorites. I enjoy the meaning behind his work in tandem with his fusion of color, creativity, and philanthropy on canvas. I love the fact that he was one of the artists that defined the 1960s and still continues to stimulate, inspire, and excite people from all over the world.
Katherine: I have an affinity for David “Lebo” Le Batard partly because he’s from Miami, but mainly because of the in-depth phrases and meaning behind his artwork. The artwork is more than just what the eye sees—it’s about history, it’s a story, and it’s a phrase with an hour’s worth of conversation attached to each and every image. I love that.
What is your favorite client memory?
Chris: One of our favorite memories has to be with Maria and Constantine. They were such a free-spirited and friendly couple. We dined with them and spent many evenings in animated conversation. We ended up helping the couple collect artwork for their homes in Greece and Philadelphia, developing a friendship along the way.
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?
Chris: Rio de Janeiro has to be one of my favorites. The food is phenomenal, the culture is so different, and the energy is electrifying.
Katherine: St. Petersburg, Russia. The culture, the history, the antiquities, the food, and the architecture made this one of my favorite ports in the world.
What does life look like when you’re home on vacation?
Chris: When we’re not working, we’re on safari in South Africa tracking and viewing big game—lions, elephants, and leopards. We love to be in the peace and tranquility of the wilderness. Cooking braai, or barbeque, with good friends and family is another favorite pastime.
Katherine: When we’re at home in the United States, you can find us spending time in Greenville, South Carolina, where my family lives. We also enjoy fishing in the mountains with my brother, niece, and nephew. Overall, we just enjoy moments with good people that we care about. When Chris and I get a break on board, we scuba dive around the world. We just recently became certified!
Please tell us about your experience aboard the Norwegian Escape?
Chris: Being on board the NCL Escape has been an experience like no other. We have over 5,000 passengers every week, and the art team engages with over thousands of people per month. It has been one of the best contracts of our career. The ship is top-of-the-line, the quality of life is excellent, and the adventures we’ve had in ports have been extraordinary. The team we have worked with on board has to be the highlight of working here. The culture we have created is the standard of what we hope to achieve and maintain in the future.
Katherine: In our opinion, we’re surrounded by one of the top art collections on the seven seas. The experience of being an auctioneer on the NCL Escape is an amalgamation of tenacity, teamwork, continuous development, and awe.