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Auctioneer Spotlight: Dave and Lesleigh Wallensky

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Many of our Park West collectors develop friendships with the art teams over the course of their vacations. Here’s a chance to get to know them better as they share their favorite adventures in the art world.

Dave Wallensky is from Toronto, Canada. He has been an international art dealer for over 10 years on more than 25 ships. As an art dealer, he luckily met Lesleigh who is the niece of a well-regarded artist in Australia. Read about their favorite memories from sea and how their adventures together all started with a watch.

Dave and Lesleigh tied the knot amongst family as well as dozens of clients who have become friends. Photo credit: Dave Wallensky

Dave and Lesleigh tied the knot amongst family as well as dozens of clients who have become friends. Photo credit: Dave Wallensky

Previous ships as an Auctioneer Couple: Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) Breeze, CCL Splendor, CCL Freedom, Celebrity Millennium, Norwegian Jade, Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, and Princess Star
Current ship as an Auctioneer Couple: Ruby Princess

Congratulations on your recent wedding! How did you two meet?
Dave: I bought a watch that was very expensive and I shouldn’t have done it – four days later it broke. The retailer told me they were unable to refund it and I was stuck with an expensive paperweight. On the Carnival Breeze, I walked into the gift shop and told the blonde Australian that I wanted the cheapest, crappiest watch she had. She pointed to the wall and said, “There they are. Eight dollars.” After purchasing the watch, I said to my gallery manager that I was going to marry the girl. I was always told when you know, you’ll know. That was December 2012. We got married on May 16, 2015. Yes, the watch still works and I wore it on my wedding day. Ironically, it’s the best watch I’ve ever owned.

Editor’s note: Can you spot the watch in the photo above?

What do you like most about being an auctioneer?
Dave: I love when the guests who collected develop a paradigm shift by viewing art in a new way. I conduct a seminar called “Understanding Abstract Art.” We start with a group of people who will admit that they don’t get it, and by the end some develop an appreciation for the style. When new collectors tell me that they now see art in a new way or their love for it has been rekindled, I feel like I’m giving back in some way.

Lesleigh meeting her favorite artist, David Willardson, in his L.A. studio. Photo credit: Dave Wallensky

Lesleigh meeting her favorite artist, David Willardson, in his L.A. studio. Photo credit: Dave Wallensky

 

Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Lesleigh: My favorite artist is David Willardson – no questions. I fell in love with his work as soon as I saw it, and the first artist Dave took me to meet was David in Los Angeles.

Dave: I’ve never known her to get nervous, but it was amazing to see Lesleigh react when she met David. For me, this is difficult since I know many of the artists personally. I will always love Hua Chen because his art takes me into the past with great artists like Renoir and Degas. I love Peter Max for his colors, but lately Dominic Pangborn’s new abstracts have me captivated.

 

"Dragonfly Black" (2014), Time Yanke

Dragonfly Black” (2014), Time Yanke

What is your favorite guest memory?
Dave: We had a lovely family on a cruise that fell in love with Tim Yanke’s dragonflies. Eventually, I asked what the connection was. The mother told me a very personal story about her son passing, but every year she sees a dragonfly on his birthday. She is sure that it’s her son coming back to visit. We found a special Yanke for them to collect that was a unique dragonfly. We still stay in touch and she has sent me a photo of a dragonfly in her backyard. It still gives us chills.

What has been your favorite port?
Dave: We fell in love with Curacao at a private resort called Hotel Baoase – tables on the beach, private cabanas, and private dining service. It’s the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen and a dining experience that will change your life.

 

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Showing 23 comments
  • Shannon Boon
    Reply

    Very sweet story Dave and Lesleigh, so happy for you, you guys are too cute!

  • Kim Clark
    Reply

    We met Dave a few years back on the Breeze. I had no interest in art auctions and thought I would go get the free champagne and leave. He made it so interesting that I couldn’t leave and ended up going to all of the other art events on the ship. We fell in love with artwork that we would have never considered buying, which is now hung proudly on our walls. Looking around my house I feel like I am in a Park West art gallery. My most touching story was our Kinkade. I always wanted a cute little cottage with a bridge and pretty flowers (what most picture when they think Kinkade). My husband fell in love with “It Doesn’t Get Any Better”, which is of a man fishing. It was nice, but I wasn’t interested. At the next auction Dave came over and told me that my husband loves the painting because it reminds him of the good times fishing with his dad. I am so grateful Dave told me because it looks so perfect in our dining room and isn’t just a Kinkade, it’s a Kinkade that has a story. The main thing Dave taught us was to buy what you love and that statement will always stick with me. We have probably one of the oddest collections from Tim Yanke to LEBO to signed cartoons and a Kinkade and we are very proud of every one. Thanks to Dave, our house isn’t just a house, it’s our personalized home. A big thank you to Dave and his lovely wife Lesleigh.

  • Jason Downs
    Reply

    Congratulations! We met them on a cruise two years ago. He is a fantastic person and great art dealer. I just returned from another cruise yesterday and purchased 4 more paintings. 2 Peter Max’s. Please tell him my youngest brother is getting married this Saturday and we have added to our Peter Max collection that he helped us start. Plus purchased the dragon flies.
    Jason Downs, J.Wayne Downs, Justin Downs and Patty Downs.

  • Sarah Reed
    Reply

    I loved attending David’s art seminars. I wish I could have attended all of them but I had a little to spend time with too, so I attended as many as I could fit in. He was very knowledgeable about the art, as were the directors, and he made it fun and interesting. I feel like I walked away knowing a bit more than prior to my cruise. Lesleigh was so lovely and helpful as well and always has a beautiful smile on her face. The are events they put on were the highlight of my cruise. I purchased 4 pieces and they kindly threw in a book as well. I just received the book and one piece today–so excited to get the rest. I am very much looking forward to my next cruise so that I can enjoy the art events. All the better if it happens to be run by David and Lesleigh. Cheers to you both!

  • Sarah Reed
    Reply

    I loved attending David’s art seminars. I wish I could have attended all of them but I had a little one to spend time with too, so I attended as many as I could fit in. He was very knowledgeable about the art, as were the directors, and he made it fun and interesting. I feel like I walked away knowing a bit more about art than prior to my cruise. Lesleigh was so lovely and helpful as well and always has a beautiful smile on her face. The art events they put on were the highlight of my cruise. I purchased 4 pieces and they kindly threw in a book as well. I just received the book and one piece today–so excited to get the rest. I am very much looking forward to my next cruise so that I can enjoy the art events. All the better if it happens to be run by David and Lesleigh. Cheers to you both!

  • earl&sharon tatum
    Reply

    are you coming to Pahrump nv

  • George & Bonnie Newman
    Reply

    Wow. Congrats on your wedding. We tried to get to Vegas to see you, but unfortunately could not make it. Love you as an auctioneer. You really know your artists. Lesleigh, you are so adorable. Loved talking to you on the Star. You both are great.

  • Margaret Holmes
    Reply

    So happy for you both! We met on the Star Princess in April, which at the time, was to be your last cruise. Glad to know you are still imparting your great knowledge of art to so many people. We love our 3 new Tarkays. Thank you for all the insight on Mr. Tarkay as well as so many other wonderful artists. Best wish for a long and happy marriage. Regards, Roy & Margaret Holmes

  • Gina
    Reply

    First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to Dave and Lesleigh on their recent wedding. I had the pleasure of meeting Dave and Lesleigh at an Alaskan Cruise last year. I had always loved to learn more about paintings. One of the items in my bucket list, among other things, is to own paintings and hung them in our home. Dave and Lesleigh made that happen. I was given a crash course in art appreciation during the cruise. I now have a much deeper appreciation of art. I see each piece differently now. Dave was simply amazing… how he makes the lecture and the auction so interesting and how he has all those detailed information about each piece in his head and in his heart. You can see the passion in him. In addition to the lines and strokes and colors, it’s the story behind each painting that captures one’s heart. I did not really care for Kincaid’s work before but I do appreciate his work more now. I was introduced to so many artists and their works. Lesleigh was so patient in explaining things to me and in helping me make decisions. I also had always thought that only rich people can afford to have the luxury of owning paintings in their homes. But Dave and Lesleigh changed that for me. What started out as let me attend the seminar and learn something turn out to me buying over 10 pieces of art for my home, 4 pieces of which are now hanging beautifully in our home. The pieces were a start and I hope to be able to buy some of the pieces I loved but were beyond my budget at that time.

  • Joe Friedman
    Reply

    Congratulations on your marriage Dave & Lesleigh. You got me started on art collecting on the Jade a couple of years ago and I have continued — Love it! Best to you both.

  • Paul and Susan Konka
    Reply

    Congratulations, you two, and every wish for a wonderful lifetime together!

  • Kelli Kennedy
    Reply

    We met Dave on the Breeze in January of 2013. He sold us our first FOUR Park West works of art, ironically, one of the Peter Max 9/11 paintings which is ironic because I’m reading this article about Dave, today, on 9/11. We also bought the Angel with Heart, a Britto and a Yanke. It was because of Dave (well technically because he was an educating, fun, enthusiastic salesman and he had us spend so much on art, and, ok, maybe the free champagne helped out some too) that we have been invited to many Park West special events such as the AMAZING VIP cruises as well as land based events, the next one is actually featuring Peter Max himself! We have gotten to meet and collect original works from artists such as Dominic Pangborn and David Lebatard who are both super nice guys by the way and also made a few lasting friendships with fellow collectors, all thanks to Dave! Congrats on the wedding, hope to see you at a Park West event soon! Kelli and Ramon Rivera, Carmel, CA.

  • Roy and Linda Henson
    Reply

    Linda and I had the good fortune to meet Dave and ‘Leslie’ in February 2015 on the Star Princess. We were both impressed with Dave’s presentations and the manner in which he conducted the art auctions. In fact, Dave is responsible for restoring my interest in art acquisitions. We look forward to visiting with him again on a future cruise. Roy and Linda Henson

  • Jason & Debbie Litt
    Reply

    We met Dave & Lesleigh on the “Freedom” this summer out of Texas. They were awesome! Purchased several works art & learned a ton as well. I would really love to get an e-mail address, I would like to pick Dave’s brain on a few things- can you help me with this?

  • Pam & Ken Clouse
    Reply

    Congrats to you both.
    Met you on the Breeze about 2 years ago. You took us to eat at that great place on the beach that is your favorite hotel. I ate Lion Fish for the first time. We had a wonderful experience & loved out time with you both. Where are you at now? We are the ones from Texas , Ken is the jet pilot that flew off carriers. Remember. Let us hear from you.

  • Wayne and Susan Walden
    Reply

    Congratulations to you both on your marriage. You and Lesleigh were great auctioneer on Star. You Dave know so much about art, was so impressed on how you presented each piece. You have made us appreciate art. We hope to see you both on future cruises.

  • Fred & Karen Mayer
    Reply

    Dave is a amazing auctioneer and Lesleigh is a gifted assistant, together they made a great team. The sweetness of their young married relationship reminds us of the beginning of our 30 year marriage as best friends. When we think of them, we also think of Ketchikan Candy Fudge.
    We are excited to receive the “Pino” that both Dave and Lesleigh encouraged us to add to our collection. We wish them well in their marriage, careers, and art collecting. Fred & Karen Mayer

  • David and Janet Hopkins
    Reply

    Congregation on the wedding. I (we) think about you every time I look at my Peter Max’s Umbrella Man. If you ever get back to Vegas give up a call.

  • John J. Vargo
    Reply

    My wife and I met Dave and his lovely wife on the Ruby Princess in July on a cruise to Alaska. He was both very entertaining and knowledgeable. He explained a lot about the artists and what made them special. We made some purchases and are happy with them. I hope to see them again on a future cruise. He is a really friendly individual and they are a great couple.

  • Dianne and Reed Brackett
    Reply

    We have been on 3 cruises with Dave and Lesleigh on the Princess Star. They made the cruises! On our second cruise they recognized us when we walked into the gallery and it was such a treat to be with them again. We have learned so much more about art and have added so many beautiful pieces to our home because of their knowledge and enthusiasm. We hope to be able to sail with them again sometime in the near future.

  • Jim & Shelley Graham
    Reply

    Jim and I met Dave and Lesleigh on the Princess Star in March/April 2015. We had never attended any art presentations previously, and decided to give it a try. After the first time we were hooked. It was a combination of both Dave and Lesleigh being such great individuals, and the fact that we gained an appreciation for the art. Thank you, Dave and Lesleigh, for making our art experience as magical as you did. Also, I have to say that it is quite a rush when you put your card up to bid on the art. It is a unique experience!

  • Charley Tallman
    Reply

    These are two wonderful people. Park West and cruise industry art collectors have lost an amazing asset when these two sailed off to Australia to begin there next chapter. My wife and I will be cruising in Australia in a few months and are very much looking forward to seeing them again.

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