Auctioneer Spotlight: Deon and Jeanne van der Merwe

 In Cruise Art Auctions at Sea, Nano Lopez, Peter Max, Robert Kipniss, Uncategorized, Yaacov Agam, Yuval Wolfson

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.

Deon and Jeanne van der Merwe were already a team long before becoming international art dealers. After university, they dove into a business adventure focused on designing and importing bespoke (customized) furniture pieces in Cape Town, South Africa. They realized their partnership created some kind of magic and took their artistic inclinations to the seas.

Deon and Jeanne pose with one of their favorite artists, Yaacov Agam. Photo credit: Jeanne van der Merwe

Deon and Jeanne pose with one of their favorite artists, Yaacov Agam. Photo credit: Jeanne van der Merwe

Previous ships as Auctioneer: Holland America (HAL) Volendam, HAL Oosterdam, HAL Eurodam, Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, and Celebrity Solstice
Current ship: Celebrity Eclipse

What do you like most about being an auctioneer?
Deon: I get to know people from all walks of life. In the course of a cruise, an art novice can become an art aficionado and a stranger can become a dear friend. Also, the castle of art knowledge that I’ve built over the years makes me proud.

Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Deon: Yaacov Agam. When I conduct my auctions, it is Agam’s message that unlocks the audience’s imagination on the “reason” for art. Art is timeless. Being able to participate in his art makes anyone an artist on the spot!

Jeanne: Nano Lopez. In a world of so much mass production, Nano is the exemplar of a truly skilled fine artist. When he cruised with us in 2013, he mentioned that life on all levels is a miracle. Whether it is the leaf of a tree or even the man-made factories, we should celebrate life here like heaven.

What is your favorite guest memory?
Jeanne: I still giggle when I think about a delightful gentleman that cruised with us some years ago. He was infatuated with Americana, and I mean smitten! Every morning he would visit the gallery to show us his meticulously prepared outfit. Imagine: red and white trousers, a star spangled silk shirt, navy velvet jacket, stripes and stars on his hat and shoes, and even a handkerchief to go with it all! Every day he was dressed to the nines. Needless to say, when this gentleman met Peter Max, it was love at first sight.

These industrious art auctioneers aren't afraid to show off their fun-loving side. Photo credit: Jeanne van der Merwe

These industrious art auctioneers aren’t afraid to show off their fun-loving side. Photo credit: Jeanne van der Merwe

What has been your favorite port?
Jeanne: One of my favorite memories is the day we were allowed off the ship in St. Petersburg. I conducted a thought-provoking seminar – “The Art of the Hermitage” – every morning before we arrived even though I personally hadn’t been able to go to port due to a visa issue. Luckily, our fates soon changed and I was able to go and feast in viewing all the gems that I had recommended to others to enjoy.

Deon: My sweetheart and I are passionate foodies! In every port we visit, we’ll ask some locals what they’d recommend. This technique always ensures an authentic experience.

Jeanne, how does being an artist yourself affect how you introduce others to art?
Jeanne: As an artist myself, when I encounter someone that tells me they don’t know enough about art, I tell them the only things they need to focus on is how it makes them feel. When I paint – even in my cabin on the ship – the last thing on my mind is art history and rules. The only thing an artist hopes for is the relationship that their creation might form within your imagination.

Since you live on cruise ships most of the year, where do you consider home?
Deon: Apart from our gracious parents, we have not had a home base for over five years…until recently. We became the proud owners of a glorious space that celebrates the splendor of art. We named it Ateljee since it is the Afrikaans word for “atelier.”

Jeanne: Ateljee is situated on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town. The apartment, which we also rent to vacationers, is furnished and decorated with our favorite travel finds, local design and, of course, splendid artworks. You’ll find works by Agam, Lebo, Yuval Wolfson and Robert Kipniss in the collection.

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Showing 19 comments
  • Cristian

    Such a intersting interview. I hope i ll find more like this it was quiet enjoyable. Cheers

  • Ken Morgan

    Deon and Jeanne introduced us to the Park West Galleries on the Eurodam. From our first Krasnyansky to our latest Guyton we have throughly enjoyed every piece. Thank you Deon and Jeanne our home is more interesting because of you.

  • Marg & Rod Birch

    A whole new world opened up for us when we met Deon & Jeanne – the joys to be gained from artists and their wonderful works. Yes we have added more since then.

  • Maurice Harrison

    We met Deon and Jeanne on HAL and again on Celebrity Solstice New Zealand. We loved the lectures given by Jeanne on the art and loved Deone as auctioneer. It was because of them that we purchased our artwork and hopefully we will meet them again on an other cruise. Our best wishes to them both.

  • Jerry & Becky Bird

    I really enjoyed the spirit and life Deon and Jeanne brought various artists works. I have my house and office filled with many works my wife and I purchased when we were on board with them. Thank you for passing your passion on to others. God bless

  • Doris Henderson

    Jeanne and Deon, Great to read about you both, how I thank you (and Dwight) for your input to starting me on my journey of art collection and appreciation – you will be proud of my decision to purchase an Itzchak Tarkay original ‘SUMMER FLAIR” on my cruise this year! Continue to have fun!

  • Bob Bandanza

    Deon and Jeanne
    It is great seeing both of you in this article, we bought our first Max Painting from you along with several other Tarkay’s, Nixon’s, etc. A couple years ago on the Legend of the Seas. You both look fabulous. Since then we have been on several VIP cruises, and have pruchased 4 add’l Max paintings, along with many great pieces of art including Nano’s Sherlock, a great conversation piece in our home. We have now purchased over 100 pieces of Art from Park West, and truly ennjoyed meeting you guys and the friendship you bestowed. Continue your quest in life.
    Bob and Pat

  • Mishell Peterson

    Deon and Jeanne introduced us to fine art on our honeymoon last April. Their enthusiasm is contagious and we now find our new home decorated in beautiful art with wonderful memories to go with them.

  • Anita

    Several years ago, we bought a large collection of art from Deon and Jeanne. They were helpful in the selection of the pieces and knowing about the artists. We now own a Rembrandt, Goya, and Picasso, Tim Yankee, several Tarkay and many more. Deon and Jeanne are our favorite auctioneers!

  • William O'Neill

    Met this couple about a year ago on a cruise. Their passion for art was apparent. Deon really brought out the true meaning of appreciating art. Look forward to seeing them again.

  • Judy/Satish Chandran

    We were fortunate to be on the Celebrity ship with them from Auckland to circumnavigate Australia. We learned so much and learned to appreciate so much more.

  • Naomi K. Baldwin

    Jeanne and Deon are such a lovely couple. Their passion for the art world is clearly visible in just about all that they do. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at “Ateljee” in Cape Town, and it is just as delightful as the two souls that created it!

  • bruce&sandy leigh

    many thanks to deon and Jeanne for helping us establish our own little gallery when we travelled on the celebrity solistice

  • Jeanne & Deon

    What a humbling experience to read all these kind words. Thank you everybody! It is because of you that art’s true value will persist.

  • Sally & Harold Welling

    Deon and Jeanne introduced us to our first Park West auction on the Celebrity Solstice. They are a wonderful team and made the whole experience enjoyable. We wish them well!

  • Becky Nussbaum

    Thanks for this interesting interview. I have heard may great things about each of you. It was very nice to put faces with your names and to “hear” from you. All my best to you both

  • David Freudenruch

    Loved the art auction I attended recently on NCL Getaway. Learned so much from Deon and Jeanne. They both have great personalities and truly love what they do.

  • Jill Lazaroff

    We just returned home from a cruise on Anthem of the seas and really enjoyed Jeanne and Deon. We purchased many pieces of art but realized when we got home that we were not credited $500 that we won in a raffle. Auction # B04C. Please help us get in touch with Deon to take care of this. Thank you

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